U.S. State Depart­ment Is­sues 2016 Hu­man Traf­fick­ing Re­port: Saint Lu­cia Makes Watch List!

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

As re­ported in last Satur­day’s edi­tion of the STAR, the U.S. Depart­ment of State con­sid­ers Saint Lu­cia a source and des­ti­na­tion coun­try for men, women and chil­dren sus­pected for sex traf­fick­ing and forced la­bor. Its June 2016 re­port says the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia “does not fully meet the min­i­mum stan­dards for the elim­i­na­tion of traf­fick­ing.”

More­over, “the gov­ern­ment did not demon­strate over­all in­creas­ing anti-traf­fick­ing ef­forts com­pared to the pre­vi­ous re­port­ing pe­riod.”

Among the State Depart­ment’s rec­om­men­da­tions for Saint Lu­cia: “Vig­or­ously pros­e­cute, con­vict, and pun­ish per­pe­tra­tors for forced la­bor and sex traf­fick­ing; in­crease ef­forts to iden­tify and pro­vide assistance to vic­tims; adopt stan­dard op­er­at­ing pro­ce­dures on a vic­tim-cen­tered ap­proach to guide po­lice, im­mi­gra­tion, la­bor, child pro­tec­tion and so­cial wel­fare of­fi­cers.”

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port “the gov­ern­ment did not in­dict any per­pe­tra­tors in the case in­volv­ing four po­ten­tial sex traf­fick­ing vic­tims who were iden­ti­fied in 2013 and repa­tri­ated to Ukraine and Rus­sia in 2014 with the help of an in­ter­na­tional or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

It also un­der­scored that “the gov­ern­ment’s of­fice of pub­lic prose­cu­tions has been without se­nior lead­er­ship, con­tribut­ing to the de­lay of traf­fick­ing prose­cu­tions.” Also that the gov­ern­ment “has never re­ported pros­e­cut­ing or con­vict­ing a pub­lic of­fi­cial com­plicit in traf­fick­ing.”

The State Depart­ment re­peated ear­lier com­plaints that the Saint Lu­cia gov­ern­ment’s ef­forts to iden­tify and pro­tect traf­fick­ing vic­tims “re­mained in­ad­e­quate” and re­vealed in­ter­na­tional NGO and me­dia re­ports in­di­cated “some nine vic­tims and 60 in­di­vid­u­als pre­vi­ously in­den­ti­fied as po­ten­tial vic­tims paid for their own ac­com­mo­da­tion and meals . . .” Ad­di­tion­ally au­thor­i­ties re­ferred vic­tims on an ad hoc ba­sis to legal, ad­vo­cacy and cri­sis ser­vice re­gard­less of their legal sta­tus.”

The anti-traf­fick­ing act con­tains vic­tim pro­tec­tion pro­vi­sions such as pri­vacy and wit­ness pro­tec­tion to pro­tect vic­tims who par­tic­i­pate in the in­ves­ti­ga­tion and prose­cu­tion of traf­fick­ers.

The re­port noted: “Some po­ten­tial vic­tims and wit­nesses from a case un­der­go­ing prose­cu­tion gave state­ments to the for­mer di­rec­tor of pub­lic prose­cu­tion but none tes­ti­fied in court dur­ing the re­port­ing pe­riod.”

The Lam­birds stu­dents did not re­ceive the assistance due to them as vic­tims.

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