(Nation News) Police in Barbados have smashed what they believe is a human trafficking ring here, and for the first time have charged individuals with this crime.
As a result, a man and a woman will appear in court today jointly charged with human trafficking.
Police public relations officer Inspector David Welch yesterday confirmed that the two were charged following a police raid of a bar in Nelson Street, The City, last Thursday.
Reliable sources told the DAILY NATION that the 22-year-old man and the bar’s 36-year-old proprietress were arrested after police found five female Guyanese nationals, dressed only in bathing suits, working in the bar.
The five were between 17 and 21 years old.
On further investigation, it was found that the five women’s passports and documentation were not in their possession. Other evidence uncovered suggested the women were part of a regional network.
Human trafficking is a crime in which traffickers profit from the exploitation of individuals lured to places where they can be controlled. Victims are promised a better life and good jobs, but then forced into dangerous, illegal or abusive work.
Human trafficking is a rapidly expanding global phenomenon and is said to have many faces, including domestic servitude, forced labour and sexual slavery.
The investigation and arrest of the two individuals, said Welch, was led by the new Sex Crimes and Trafficking Unit.
Barbados was placed on a “Tier 2 Watch List” for a third consecutive year for human trafficking in 2012 by the United States Department of State.
In the department’s 2012 Trafficking in Persons Report on Barbados, it said this island was “a source and destination country for men, women and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. . . . Evidence suggests there are foreign women forced into prostitution in Barbados. Legal and illegal immigrants from Jamaica, the Dominican Republic and Guyana appear to be the most vulnerable to trafficking.”
The report added that prostitution of children was known to exist in Barbados, with a high-risk group being Barbadian and immigrant children engaging in transactional sex with older men for material goods. “In the past, foreigners reportedly have been subjected to forced labour in Barbados, with the highest risk sectors being domestic service, agriculture, and construction,” according to the report
which said the profile of human trafficking in Barbados was similar to that of other countries in the region.
The State Department said government was not fully complying with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, and recommended it amend the Transnational Crime Bill (Part III), enacted in February 2011 to prohibit all forms of human trafficking, and among other things, prescribe penalties that are commensurate with those for other serious crimes
“The Government has not shown evidence of increasing efforts to address human trafficking over the previous year; therefore, Barbados is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for a third consecutive year.
“Barbados was granted a waiver of an otherwise required downgrade to Tier 3 because its Government has developed a written plan that, if implemented, would constitute significant efforts to meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan,” the report added.
Government responded last April by establishing the National Task Force for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons, chaired by Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite. The Bureau of Gender Affairs acts as the Secretariat to the Task Force.
In February Programme Officer at the Bureau, Nalita Gajadhar, disclosed that 60 people would be exposed to human trafficking training during the year, with half that number being groomed to be trainers. This reflected one of the complaints of the State Department.
Gajadhar also assured that the bureau would continue working with the International Organization for Migration to ensure additional training opportunities were created. (www.nationnews.com)