Tue, Nov 20, 2012
The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons (PTIP) Act was enacted on September 29, 2011. This Act received unanimous support from both the Government and Opposition in the House of Assembly. The Act, among other things, makes trafficking in persons a criminal offence. Section 5 (1) of the Act states Ã¢â¬Åany person who engages in, conspires to engage in, attempts to engage in, assists another person to engage in, or organises or directs another person to engage in trafficking in persons is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of $250,000.00 or imprisonment for fifteen (15) years or bothÃ¢â¬Â. The Parliament of St Vincent and the Grenadines views the offence of trafficking in persons very seriously, hence the reason why it will be tried in the High Court and such stiff penalties will be administered to persons who are found guilty at a trial.
The Act is comprehensive, wide-ranging and very progressive. It is divided into six (6) parts. Part I highlights, among other things, the Interpretation and Object of the Act; Part II details the Criminal Offences and Related Provision; Part III deals with the measures the assist and protect victims of Trafficking in Persons; Part IV deals with Misuse of Commercial Transportation; Part V with the National Task Force against Trafficking in Person and; Part VI generally points out the responsibilities of the lead Minister under whose ministry Trafficking in Persons falls.
The object of the Act
The object of the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Act is to Ã¢â¬Åprescribe measures to prevent and combat Trafficking in Persons by:
a) Providing a framework for protecting and assisting victims;
b) Providing the means to effectively investigate, prosecute and suppress all forms of trafficking in persons and;
c) Promoting cooperation between St. Vincent and the Grenadines and other states in order to prevent and suppress Trafficking in Persons and to punish offendersÃ¢â¬Â.
Criminal Offences listed in the Act
Apart from the offence of Trafficking in Persons, there are several other criminal offences listed in the PTIP Act. They are:
o Offence of Unlawful Withholding of Identification Papers – Part II Section 6 of the Act states Ã¢â¬Åany person who for the purposes of Trafficking in Persons and acting or purporting to act as another personÃ¢â¬â¢s employer, manager, supervisor, contactor, employment agent or solicitor or client such as pimp, knowingly procures, destroys, conceals, removes, confiscates, or possess any passport, immigration document or other government identification document, whether actual or purported, belonging to another person commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of $100,000 or to imprisonment to twelve (12) years or both.Ã¢â¬Â
o Offence of Transporting a Person for the Purpose of Exploiting Such a PersonÃ¢â¬â¢s Prostitution – Part II Section 7(1) states Ã¢â¬Åany person who knowingly transports or conspires to transport or attempts to transport or assist another person engaged in transporting any person into St. Vincent and the Grenadines or across an international border for the purpose of exploiting that personÃ¢â¬â¢s prostitution commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of $ 100,000 or to imprisonment to twelve (12) years or both.Ã¢â¬Â
o Offence of Receiving Financial or other Benefit knowing that it is as a result of Trafficking in Persons – Part II Section 13 states Ã¢â¬Åevery person who receives a financial or other benefit knowing that it results from the offence of Trafficking in Persons commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of two hundred thousand dollars or imprisonment for ten years or both.Ã¢â¬Â
o Offences of Bodies Corporate – According to Part II Section 14(1) Ã¢â¬Åa Body Corporate which commits an offence under this Act is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of two million dollarÃ¢â¬Â. Bodies Corporate is another term for Ã¢â¬ÅcompanyÃ¢â¬Â or Ã¢â¬Åbusiness entityÃ¢â¬Â. Section 14(2) further states Ã¢â¬Åwhere a Body Corporate commits an offence under this Act, every Director, Manager, Secretary or other similar Officer concerned with the offence is liable on conviction to the punishment provided for the offenceÃ¢â¬Â. What this is saying is that if a company is convicted for the offence of Trafficking in Persons, then, whoever is responsibleÃ¢â¬âbe it the Manager, Director, Secretary or all three (3), shall be punished by the punishment set out in Section 14(1).
o Offence of Threatening/Obstructing a Police Officer – Part II Section 18 states Ã¢â¬ÅAny person who threatens assaults or obstructs a Police Officer acting in the execution of his duty under this act commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of five thousand dollars or to imprisonment for one year or both.Ã¢â¬Â
To be continued next week
The Anti-Trafficking in Persons Unit (ATIPU)
Questelles Police Station
Email: [email protected]