Thursday 21 November, 2019

St Lucia takes measures to tackle human trafficking

The Government of Saint Lucia is going all out to acquiesce to the demands of the 2019 US Trafficking in Persons Report as it endeavours to move from a Tier Two level, where it is currently at, to a Tier One level.

Being perched at the Tier Two level means that Saint Lucia has not fully met the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking but is making significant efforts to do so.

Heading efforts to get Saint Lucia off its present perch is the Department of Home Affairs and National Security. The Department is attempting to meet specific obligations and implement short to long-term recommendations in accordance with the reports of the International Organization for Migration, which is the international custodian and assessor of the global illegal trade.

The Department, from the commencement of this year, says it has been executing a work programme that involves promoting how to spot victims of trafficking, prevent and protect persons, especially teenagers and other young persons from becoming victims of trafficking and prosecuting traffickers.

The Department and its key stakeholders like the police force have been intensifying their implementation and monitoring of the Victim Centered Approach.

The 2019 report noted that although the Government of St Lucia does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking it is making significant efforts to do so.  For instance, the government demonstrated overall increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. These efforts included passing a national action plan, investigating suspected traffickers, funding anti-trafficking prevention, conducting baseline trafficking research, and training its personnel in measures to combat trafficking.

However, the government did not meet the minimum standards in several key areas, according to the report, it did not identify any victims for the third consecutive year, has not initiated a prosecution since 2015, and has never convicted a trafficker. The government did not formally approve standardized written procedures to identify victims, although they were used informally by law enforcement.

The scope of work the Department of Home Affairs and National Security is involved in this year in order to comply with what the world’s watchdog on that illegal trade wants includes the maintenance and keeping up to date the Trafficking in Persons website and social media platforms.

The Department is also maintaining a general public education strategy that entails a budget to cover costs associated with promotional items, prize-giving incentives, purchase of air time and other areas.

Part of its work programme for the year is to promote and ensure the protection of victims of human trafficking. The Department is also providing training in Trafficking in Persons and Smuggling to stakeholders within government and civil society by hosting several workshops.

The Department will also be hosting promotional activities like school fairs and other activities in observance of World Day Against Trafficking in Person and provide the tools needed in the execution of Trafficking in Persons related administrative work.

In its protection of victims, the government wants to build or designate a specific centre to house victims of trafficking.

The Government of Saint Lucia is ensuring that the country does not fail in honouring its mandate to do certain things to get itself off the Tier Two level it is currently at. Should the government fail in meeting its mandate, the country would be downgraded to the red flag – watch list.

In an effort for this downgrading not to happen, the Department is ensuring that there is continual education about trafficking in persons, believing that the more knowledge one has about the topic, the better prepared and equipped one is to stop it.

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