SVG rejects US claims of trafficking in persons
June 19, 2009
SVG rejects US claims of trafficking in persons

The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has strongly rejected the US State Department’s naming of this country on the tier 2 watch list for human trafficking.

On Tuesday, June 16th, St Vincent and the Grenadines was so listed in the State Department’s 9th annual Trafficking in Persons Report.{{more}}

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security Dr Ralph Gonsalves has sent a strongly worded letter Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, noting his government’s firm and unequivocal protest to this listing.

Dr Gonsalves said that the listing is “high-handed”, and accused the US of arbitrarily making such a declaration.

“St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a potential source country for children trafficked internally for the purposes of sexual exploitation; it may also be a destination country for women trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation,” the US State department report states.

Dr Gonsalves however declared that this statement is unfounded and has called on the US State department to swiftly remove St Vincent and the Grenadines from this list.

The report claims that “a traditional practice of sending children away from home to live with another family is sometimes misused for the purpose of coercing children into commercial sexual exploitation. In these situations, care-givers force fostered children into sexual relationships in exchange for financial and in-kind compensation.”

An upset Dr Gonsalves told SEARCHLIGHT that he is however confident that human trafficking is not a problem in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

According to him, every country is “a potential country” for human trafficking but there is no evidence of such activities taking place here.

The report recommended that St Vincent and the Grenadines develop and implement a comprehensive anti-trafficking Law and investigate allegations of commercial sexual exploitation of children, among other things.

The head of the Family Services Division Cammie Matthews has joined Dr Gonsalves in his rejection of the suggestion by the US authorities in that report.

Mathews told SEARCHLIGHT that to the best of his knowledge this is not a problem that exists here.

He however said that such a listing should make the local authorities look closer to ensure that it doesn’t

ever become a problem.