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TIP report begs trumping up of charges – Ambassdor Prince

TIP report begs trumping up of charges – Ambassdor Prince

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One aspect of the 2013 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, recently released by the United States Department of State, has come in for criticism by this country’s Ambassador to the United States.{{more}}

Ambassdor La Celia Prince, in a release, described the report as “prescribing solutions for problems that do not exist”.

According to the TIP report, St Vincent and the Grenadines is classified as a Tier 2 country, which are those which do not fully comply with the minimum standards prescribed by the US’ Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), but are making significant efforts into bringing themselves into compliance.

The TIP report, while recognizing the commendable progress made by the government, asserts that St Vincent and the Grenadines is a source, transit and destination country for trafficking victims. While the report praises the country for investigating potential trafficking cases, it laments the fact that no prosecutions were made.

Prince noted that in previous meetings with the State Department’s Trafficking Unit, she made it clear that the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has confidence in the legal process, so that if an investigation is conducted which concludes that elements of trafficking are not substantiated in the case, then there can be no prosecution.

“In my view, the report practically begs the trumping up of charges. It notes that there were no reports of public officials complicit in human trafficking offenses, as though this were an expected outcome of the investigations. This is one of the things that the United States looks for when writing their reports and we have registered our alarm to the Department of State that their reports are predicated on the assumption that trafficking takes place in all countries and that there are always high-level officials involved. That is quite simply not the case,”Ambassador Prince concluded.

In releasing the 2013 report, Secretary of State John Kerry reaffirmed that the United States will continue its leadership in fighting Trafficking In Persons. “Ending modern slavery must remain a foreign policy priority”.

The references to “modern day slavery” when speaking of the growing crime of Trafficking In Persons is something which has long caught the attention of Caribbean diplomats in Washington.

For her part, Ambassador Prince acknowledges that while human trafficking is a terrible crime, the use of the word “slavery” can have the effect of obscuring the extent of the egregiously wrong practice of slavery of Africans.

“I dare not refer to human trafficking as slavery”, she said. “Human trafficking is a terrible thing. But it is a crime that corrals global support in fighting against it. This in no way compares to the enslavement of millions of people through the regime of slavery that was institutionalized and protected by the law for four centuries.”

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