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Minister warns youth to be wary of ‘modern traps’ of human trafficking

Minister warns youth to be wary of ‘modern traps’ of human trafficking

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The Minister of Foreign Affairs has urged law enforcement authorities in St Vincent and the Grenadines to be on the look-out for and warn youths against the “modern traps” that could potentially lead to young persons being caught up in human trafficking.{{more}}

At the launch of a two-day seminar, ‘Introduction To Human Trafficking,’ last Wednesday, Camillo Gonsalves delivered the feature address, in which he spoke of the Government’s firm stance against the issue.

“It is important to keep up with the modern traps that are being set for young people. It doesn’t take much on social media for somebody to tell a young girl or a young boy all sorts of lovely things and string them along. And before you know it, give them a ticket to fly off to what they think is going to be a happy life somewhere. When they reach, they realize they have become trapped in some form of forced labour or sexual slavery,” he explained.

“We have to always be on guard against these sorts of things.”

The Minister also urged law enforcement authorities to continue working diligently at preventing human trafficking from becoming a serious issue in the country, despite SVG being ranked in the Tier 2 ‘Watch List’ of the 2015 US Human Trafficking Report.

“I want to tell you not to be discouraged by the Human Trafficking Report… We appreciate the hard work that you have been doing, and continue to do,” insisted Gonsalves.

“It is important for you not to be demoralized by the assessment of a single government that has not taken seriously into account your own hard work and local circumstances in St Vincent and the Grenadines.”

The annual report, which was launched by the US State Department in 2001, ranks countries of the world within three levels, according to how rampant human trafficking is within said countries.

These levels are Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3, with Tier 1 representing the best level, and Tier 3 the worst. Additionally, there is a sub-level within Tier 2 called the ‘Watch List’, which is a warning to countries to improve their tactics against human trafficking or face being placed in Tier 3.

Being ranked in Tier 3 results in the US imposing trade sanctions against said country, and also results in other limitations being imposed by international finance and aid organizations and agencies.

Gonsalves went on to criticize the report, asserting that it is “unfounded and unsupportable” because of its highly questionable methodology; and that it is more of a mechanism of “political control” than a mechanism to help curb human trafficking.

“That cannot be the be-all and end-all of human trafficking. We have important work here to do in St Vincent and the Grenadines, irrespective of what biased political judgements come forth from a single country that has its own serious problem with human trafficking.”

Gonsalves also noted that given SVG’s history of slavery and indentured labour, the Government takes this issue “very seriously”.

Since 2012, the Government has implemented a constitutional act that governs definitions and punishments for such crimes; has established an anti-human trafficking unit within the police force; and has launched several public awareness campaigns, along with several other initiatives.

“We are very much engaged in combatting human trafficking.”

He added: “Although we do not have, in St Vincent and the Grenadines, a problem with human trafficking – the magnitude of which other countries have – we have to work very hard to make sure St Vincent and the Grenadines remains a country that is hostile to human trafficking.”

Also addressing the seminar launch was head of the Criminal Investigations Department Superintendent Ruth Jacobs and Commissioner of Police Michael Charles. (JSV)

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