Press Release:- The Department of Home Affairs and National Security has officially launched a Counter- Trafficking Public Awareness Campaign.
Human trafficking is the transportation, transfer, and harboring or receipt of persons from one area to another, typically for the purposes of forced labor or sexual exploitation.
Saint Lucia has been placed on the Tier 2 watch list, as the government has not fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. However, the government is making significant efforts to comply with those standards.
Felicia Browne, Gender Justice Adviser/Human Rights Advocate, urged the government to continue to invest in counter-trafficking education.
“Today marks a very significant development for human rights in Saint Lucia,” she said. “As a development state it’s critical that we as a society continue to place greater emphasis on the protection of all citizens including persons that are entering our shores. Human trafficking is rapidly evolving and we’ve seen that based on our research. Additionally, the use of technology facilitates perpetrators, so it’s very important that our government invests in national security in those areas.”
Human Trafficking in Saint Lucia is an offense punishable by law under the counter trafficking act of 2010.
The 2010 Counter-Trafficking Act prohibits all forms of trafficking, punishable by up to five years’ imprisonment or fines of up to 100,000 Eastern Caribbean dollars ($37,000), or both. The Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and National Security, Hon. Hermangild Francis, stated that he has been in discussion with the Attorney General to align the punishment of human trafficking with the punishment of rape and manslaughter.
“We are going to be removing the fines so that a perpetrator goes directly to prison,” said Minister Francis. “In that situation we would need the concurrence of the judges and we do hope that the judges will understand the magnitude of the problem and give the sentence that is required.”
A national task force has been established and a number of police officers and social service agents have been trained to provide victim-centered law enforcement assistance.
Resident British Commissioner, Steve McCready, announced that next month, a member of the UK’s Immigration Enforcements International will be providing human trafficking and Immigration training to Saint Lucian Immigration and Law Enforcement personnel.
“All of this demonstrates that our countries share not just the same policy objectives, but also the commitment to working together to tackle human trafficking in all its forms,” said Mc Cready. “One of the most important parts of my role is to highlight and support and encourage areas where the UK and Saint Lucia can work together, and I think that this initiative is a great example.”
The Department of Home Affairs and National Security urges the public to call 847 or go the nearest police station if there are any suspicions of trafficking.
The slogan for the Counter- Trafficking Public Awareness Campaign is “Know it, See it, Report it.”