Trinidad and Tobago has been described as a destination, source, and transit country for human trafficking, specifically as it relates to forced prostitution, and children and men in conditions of forced labour.
Student Attorney Zwena Carrington briefly examined the issue of human trafficking for the Hugh Wooding Law School’s Human Rights Law Clinic. Zwena’s article was published on Monday November 16th, 2015 in the Trinidad Guardian Newspaper.
In Trinidad and Tobago, human trafficking is referred to as trafficking in persons. ‘Trafficking in persons’ and ‘trafficking in children’ are serious offences punishable by law. These offences are covered by the Trafficking in Persons Act, Chap.12:10 (“the Act”). This Act seeks to prevent trafficking in persons (especially women and children) and punish the offenders.
WHAT IS TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS?
Trafficking in persons is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat, deception or abduction for the purpose of exploitation. It is also the giving or receiving of payment or benefits to achieve the consent of child’s guardian for the purpose of exploitation’. Under the Act, anyone under the age of eighteen (18) years is a child.
A VICTIM IS ANY OF THE FOLLOWING:
- An adult or child whom the offence of trafficking in persons is committed against or whom an offence is alleged to have been committed against;
- Anyone who has entered the country illegally or without proper documentation and is subjected to forced labour for domestic services or the retail sector;
- Anyone who has entered the country to work and his passport , visa or other travel documents have been destroyed or taken by his employers;
- Anyone who has no legal status in Trinidad and Tobago and is forced to work in brothels or clubs for the purposes of prostitution , pornography and or sexual exploits;
- Anyone who has been forced to transport illegal items within Trinidad and Tobago or to another country;
- Anyone who would reasonably believe that he has no alternative but to submit to the labour or service demanded of him ; OR
- A child who is subjected to prostitution, sexual exploitation, child pornography, forced labour or abuse.
Neither the victim’s consent nor the past sexual conduct of the victim is a defence to the offence of trafficking in persons.
The Act contains extensive victim protections. Trafficking in persons, trafficking in children and all other related offences are indictable offences. A person found guilty of the offence of trafficking in persons or anyone who directs another person to commit the offence is liable to a fine of no less than $500,000.00 and imprisonment of no less than 15 years.
Additionally, a person found guilty of trafficking in children or a person who assists another to person to traffic children is liable to a fine of not less than $1,000,000.00 and imprisonment for not less than 20 years.
Moreover, a person who transports another person into or within Trinidad and Tobago or across an international border for the purpose of exploiting that person is liable to a fine of three hundred and $350,000.00 and to imprisonment for 12 years.
WHO CAN YOU CONTACT?
Any person who is a victim of human trafficking or any member of the general public who has information on victims or offenders of human trafficking can contact ‘Tips for Tips’ at 800-4CTU or 800-4288.This is a toll free hotline service of the ‘Counter Trafficking Unit’ (CTU) of the Ministry of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago . Calls can be made by private numbers and without disclosing your identity.
Students of the Hugh Wooding Law School Human Rights Law Clinic were each given the opportunity to write an article for the “Law Made Simple” column in the Trinidad Guardian newspaper.
These topics ranged from analysis of specific legislation, to general legal concepts. The aim of this exercise was to teach the students how to write about complex legal issues, for the average newspaper reader.
This article was re-published with permission from the Human Rights Law Clinic.