Prostitution and Sex Trafficking.

Most acts of prostitution amount to sex trafficking!

That is because the inherent vulnerability of most persons who sell sexual services make them easy targets for recruitment and exploitation.

Abuse of their vulnerability places this within the ambit of the definition of trafficking in persons under the Palermo Protocol.

Please read and consider the following statement:-

“It is rare that one finds a case in which the path to prostitution and/or a person’s experiences within prostitution do not involve, at the very least, an abuse of power and/or abuse of vulnerability.”
(Sigma Huda, former UN Rapporteur on Human Trafficking)

Cuba’s Alleged Human Trafficking on Trial – WSJ

There is a lawsuit proceeding through the US Courts that may prove to be a proverbial elephant in the room for Caribbean leaders as it has brought a spotlight on the alleged labour trafficking of medical practitioners by the Cuban government. The US Department of State has identified Cuba as a Tier 3 country in its Trafficking In Persons Report because of this and related allegations.

The lawsuit calls into question the true nature of the bilateral government arrangement to provide Cuban doctors for the South American nation of Brazil. The lawsuit alleges that the doctors were only paid 10% of the monies received from the Brazilian government, while the Cuban government retained 85% of the monies.

The legal challenge follows on from allegations made by the US Government implicating Cuba in human trafficking its doctors to provide medical services in other countries. Also implicated is the Pan American Health Organisation or PAHO – a United Nations health focused agency that operates in the Caribbean and Latin America. PAHO is accused of being the intermediary between the Cuban and Brazilian governments and allegedly retained 5% of monies received from Brazil as a fee for its services.

Efforts by PAHO to have the lawsuit dismissed on the basis of the immunity from prosecution afforded to the organisation have failed, with US Courts determining that the immunity does not cover the alleged use by PAHO of its US bank accounts to convert the Brazilian currency before payout to the Cuban authorities and the medical practitioners.

Since the allegations were raised a few years ago, PAHO and some regional government representatives have spoken out in favour of Cuba and its medical programme. They credit it with having saved countless lives and provided much-needed medical care to underserved persons and deny that it was labour trafficking. Some have claimed that these allegations are yet another attack by the US government on Cuba and seek to have all sanctions imposed against Cuba removed.

This lawsuit is clearly one to watch as its outcome may be used as a precedent by which to gauge the bilateral and multilateral arrangements that are made by government and other entities for the provision of various services, including humanitarian services.

To read more about the lawsuit, please click the link below for the Wallstreet Journal article online.

How Human Trafficking Looks in Trinidad and Tobago

Kudos to the Newsday newspaper which published an article this weekend examining what human trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago looks like, as they not only interviewed an alleged survivor and a confidant of that person, but also took the time to interview the Director of the Counter Trafficking Unit.

The article reveals some recruitment strategies used by traffickers who target minors and young females from Venezuela, the way they use social media, their resort to couples (instead of men only) to receive and transfer victims so as not to arouse early suspicion, and the role that COVID 19 vaccination status plays in the trafficking process.

Statistics provided by the Counter Trafficking Unit for the offence of Trafficking In Persons in Trinidad and Tobago are shared in the article. This may be helpful for those who do research or are curious to see how things have progressed locally over the years the Trafficking In Persons Act has been in force.

Reference is made to the words of the Honourable Prime Minister in Parliament last month when he quoted from an article citing the high male demand for commercial sex as the basis for the profitability of the sex trade in Trinidad and Tobago.

Of course, those who are older than 30 years would know that the sex trade exploiting Latin American females has been alive and kicking in Trinidad and Tobago for many decades. These are not new challenges or allegations. The humanitarian crisis in Venezuela in recent years has exacerbated the situation because many more persons are on the move and experiencing greater degrees of vulnerability than ever before.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day on 8th March, let us commit to be more proactive to deter the mindset that seeks to normalise the sexual exploitation of women and girls. Please remember that you can report any possible instance of human trafficking to the Counter Trafficking Unit by calling 800-4288.

For more details, please click the link below for the full article from the Newsday newspaper.

Prostitution to forced labour: What human trafficking looks like in Trinidad and Tobago

160 Million Children in Child Labour

160 million children in child labour

In the UK’s closing speech at the 40th Universal Periodic Review of human rights on 3rd March 2022, Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon stated that “[a]s the world emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic, it brings with it 160 million children in child labour: an increase of over 8 million in the last four years.”

“The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique peer review mechanism of the United Nations Human Rights Council that scrutinises the human rights record of every UN Member State once every 5 years. This session, the last of the current UPR cycle, reviewed 12 States: Togo, Syria, Iceland, Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Lithuania, Uganda, Timor-Leste, Moldova, South Sudan, Haiti and Sudan.”

To read about Lord Ahmad’s comments with respect to Haiti and Venezuela, please click the link below.

Add Forced Criminality to Human Trafficking Definition – Children’s Advocate

The call is being made by Jamaica’s Children’s Advocate, Mrs. Diahann Gordon Harrison for amendments to be made to Jamaica’s legislation on human trafficking to close a gap that allows minors to be forced into committing criminal acts by gang members.

Citing examples of how unsupervised children may be lured or coerced into joining gangs or breaking into houses or business places by older persons, Mrs Harrison stated that these scenarios are not covered in the current law against human trafficking. As such, the minors may be criminalised for the offences committed rather than those who lured or coerced them being charged for child trafficking.

The recommendation may significantly reduce the number for children who come into conflict with the law and create a dent in the gang networks by robbing them of their youngest recruits.

For more details, please click the link below: –

Children’s Advocate Diahann Gordon Harrison calls for penalties for persons who force others to commit crimes

Jamaican Child Advocate Concerned about TikTok

News coming out of Jamaica during Safer Internet Week reveals that parents and Children’s Advocate, Ms Diahann Gordon Harrison, expressed concern over some of the content being made and shared by minors on the social media app TikTok. The comments were made during a forum titled ‘Human Trafficking of Children’ on Wednesday.

The Jamaica Observer’s lead story on Thursday reported Ms. Harrison as saying that her office has seen an increase in the number of videos and will be taking steps to first identify the children and then conduct social enquiries into their home situation to determine what is fuelling the increase in age-inappropriate content, and when there is need for criminal prosecution.

Parents and guardians are urged to monitor and supervise their children’s use of social media. It is helpful to learn about parental control features of various apps to be better able to provide a stronger layer of protection for children who spend more time online since the onset of COVID 19 in 2020.

For full details from the Jamaica Observer please click the link below.

St. Vincent PM warns of Possible Human Trafficking in UK

The Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines has issued a warning to female nationals who have been curious about responding to advertisements to work as babysitters in the United Kingdom.

Citing the rise in inquiries his office received from nationals about travel to the UK, Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves requested the Commissioner of Police to have the Trafficking In Persons Unit look into the advertisements.

For details on these developments, please read the Loop Caribbean article linked to below.

Starting Over – The Challenges for Trafficking Survivors

“Migrant women, trafficked from neighbouring South American countries, have found themselves in Trinidad and Tobago being sexually, physically, and mentally abused, and in some cases, imprisoned.”

In one instance, a Venezuelan woman who we will call Manuela was smuggled into Trinidad via boat. Promised a decent job when recruited by the trafficker, she was forced into a van and transported to a house where other women were already being held captive and forced into prostitution.

Her attempt to escape her captivity led to her being arrested by the authorities and placed in detention for being in the country illegally.

Thanks to the International Organisation for Migration which advocated on her behalf, she was released. With her freedom attained, the arduous journey to recovery began.

For more details on the challenges trafficking survivors experience in their recovery, please read the article linked to below.

Kudos to the wonderful people at the Port of Spain office of the IOM led by Ms Jewel Ali! They foster Hope for Survivors and help them to start over.

Register for the Regional Freedom from Slavery Forum

Hi everyone, it’s the month of November and there are many events taking place, mainly online in keeping with the COVID-19 protocols for most countries.

One of the events we highly urge you to try to attend is the last of the regional FFS Forum online events for 2021. It will cover North America, Europe and the beautiful Caribbean!

The Forum will take place from the 15th to 17th November and will explore the issues related to human trafficking, forced labour and modern slavery through the experiences of survivors and activists across these 3 regions.

It will be riveting, diverse and informative so don’t miss it!

To register, please click the link below.

World Day Against Trafficking In Persons

Today marks the United Nations observance of World Day Against Trafficking In Persons. The commemoration of the Day was proclaimed in December 2013 by the United Nations General Assembly, in its resolution A/RES/68/192.

This year’s theme – “Victims’ Voices Lead the Way” – puts victims of human trafficking at the centre of the campaign and will highlight the importance of listening to and learning from survivors of human trafficking. The campaign portrays survivors as key actors in the fight against human trafficking and focusses on the crucial role they play in establishing effective measures to prevent this crime, identify and rescue victims and support them on their road to rehabilitation.

Many victims of human trafficking have experienced ignorance or misunderstanding in their attempts to get help. They have had traumatic post-rescue experiences during identification interviews and legal proceedings. Some have faced revictimization and punishment for crimes they were forced to commit by their traffickers. Others have been subjected to stigmatization or received inadequate support.

Learning from victims’ experiences and turning their suggestions into concrete actions will lead to a more victim-centred and effective approach in combating human trafficking.

We salute this year’s theme and the unmistakeable message it sends that survivors of trauma have immeasurable value and should be regarded as much more than the horrible events that happened to them. It recognises the post-traumatic growth that survivors can encounter and the wisdom their experience can bring to strategies to prevent further exploitation in society.

We encourage our readers to seek out their national law enforcement or social service agency that combats human trafficking to inquire the manner in which they may be observing World Day Against Trafficking In Persons.

Guyana Imposes Visa Restrictions to Avoid TIP Designation

In a follow up to a recent post, Guyana is now taking steps to impose visa entry requirements for Haitian and Cuban nationals in an effort to limit the number of such vulnerable persons entering its jurisdiction and becoming victims of trafficking for labour or sexual exploitation.

This move comes after multiple instances of exploitation of these foreign nationals have occurred including one recently involving several Haitian children. While Guyana is in the spotlight at this time for this reason, a number of other countries in the region have previously imposed entry restrictions on Haitian nationals.

“Attorney general and minister of legal affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall says the government is trying to prevent possible sanctions for enabling an environment for Trafficking in Persons (TIP); stated, it is, for this reason, president Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali instituted a visa requirement for Haitians seeking to enter Guyana.

Local records show that some 38,187 Haitians who entered Guyana cannot be accounted for. This, he said, has become a cause for concerns for the government. The attorney general said between 2015 and 2021, some 42,100 Haitians legally entered the country; however, only 3,913 left.

‘Trafficking in persons is one of the most serious offenses afflicting the world today. Human smuggling is a major international threat in today’s global environment, and it is against that backdrop that one must view the decision of the government of Guyana.”

The AG went into further detail as to the criminal scheme involving the migrants – “The government intelligence indicates that many of the Haitians who came are women and children, including pregnant mothers and under-age girls.

‘When they enter into Guyana, from all the evidence, and we have accumulated evidence over a protracted period of time, there is a highly organised operation that has all the trappings of an organised ring that deals with these Haitians.

“From the time they leave the departure lounge of the [airport], they are whisked away into waiting vehicles and they are taken to destinations in various parts of the country.’

The trend shows that their travel and other identification documents are seized, while they are kept in secret accommodation by the persons in charge of the operation.”

For more on this developing situation in Guyana, please click the link below.