March 30, 2012
‘SVG taking positive steps to help combat human trafficking’

It is still not yet known if the efforts to remove this country from a tier two watch list of nations which have failed to implement measures or the prevention of human trafficking, have been successful in obtaining their objective.{{more}}

According to David Lewis of the United States Embassy in Barbados, the 2012 Information and Analysis Report on human trafficking is currently being put together in Washington D.C, so he was not in a position to say what the results were.

He did, however, acknowledge the positive steps that had been taken since the 2011 report which include the enactment of legislation and the setting up of a task force to deal with human trafficking.

“Last year, St Vincent was on a tier two watch list, meaning that you were in jeopardy of falling to tier three, which is the lowest ranking. But the work that has been shown is positive,” he explained.

Christopher Sandrolini, Charge d’Affaires at the Barbados Embassy, which serves this country and the rest of the Eastern Caribbean, told SEARCHLIGHT that there was a good spirit of cooperation on the part of the Vincentian government to tackle the issue.

He explained that trafficking in persons had become a major issue across the world within the last 10 years, but it existed before that period.

“People weren’t aware,” he explained, saying that for decades people were forced to do bonded labour.

There were all kinds of things that took place when people left their country of origin to go elsewhere looking for work, he further explained.

“They put themselves at the mercy of unscrupulous people,” Sandrolini said, adding that there were instances where people could not find legitimate means to enter a particular country and had to be smuggled in, only to find themselves at the mercy of the smuggler, who may be dangerous and put ultimatums to the individual.

“So it is a good thing that attention has been paid to this, because it was an issue that existed without people realizing,” he told SEARCHLIGHT.

“There are a lot of people being trafficked, but until you start paying attention to it, and have laws and units and systems in place, you may not realize what is going on, and therefore there is a risk,” Sandrolini said.

He appealed to those involved to continue to ensure that the laws were appropriate and that there was the right kind of governmental attention being paid to the issue, and to make sure that people working here voluntarily were in fact doing so.

But although this country was put on a watch list, Sandrolini explained that it did not mean that the country was doing badly.

“We’re saying you need to upgrade your laws. We’re saying you need to pay attention to this. That’s what we are saying,” he said. (DD)