Magistrate Browne disputes allegation of human trafficking
From the Courts
December 11, 2009

Magistrate Browne disputes allegation of human trafficking

The allegation that there is human trafficking in St. Vincent and the Grenadines is regarded as incorrect and absolutely absurd by Senior Magistrate Donald Browne.{{more}}

Browne was addressing the court as a Santo Domingo native awaited his sentence on eight charges of wilfully attempting to procure SVG visas for eight Santo Domingo women. The man, Jose Samuel Perez Broodie, appeared at the court on Friday, December 4, 2009.

Browne, who appeared irate, mentioned the reports of possible human trafficking in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and declared that previous statements about this crime were incorrect.

“Somewhere along the line some people wrote that human trafficking goes on in St. Vincent,” Browne said, “They have been so misinformed,” he continued.

He added that Broodie’s actions may lead persons to believe that the country is indeed involved in the activity.

On Tuesday, June 16, 2009, St Vincent and the Grenadines was mentioned in the US State Department’s 9th annual Trafficking in Persons Report. Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Ralph Gonsalves had previously refuted St. Vincent’s listing stating that there is no such activity taking place here and called upon US State Department to remove St. Vincent from the list.

The facts surrounding the case state that Broodie, who is a resident of Antigua, arrived in St. Vincent in August and was granted six months stay by the immigration authorities.

The facts are that Broodie presented the passports to the Ministry of National Security and asked about the procedure to apply for visas. He was told what was required. Acting on suspicions, the authorities contacted the police, who tracked Broodie to a guest house in Arnos Vale. A search was conducted and Broodie was found with the passports and application forms in the apartment. The offences took place between September 15 and October 7, 2009.

In mitigation, Broodie’s Lawyer Grant Connell said that four of the applicants were the family members of Broodie and that he was trying to get them to come to St. Vincent to make a better life for them. He added that he did not think that the authorities should have become suspicious because Broodie was following procedures outlined. Connell implored Browne to impose a fine on Broodie, adding that he had a medical condition.

Prosecutor Sergeant Glenford Greggs, addressing Browne, requested that Broodie be deported immediately after he had been fined or had served his sentence. Broodie was fined $3,200 forthwith altogether for the eight charges, or in default he will serve prison sentences from 9 months to one year. The sentences will run concurrently.(OS)