Post Cabinet - 30 June 2016
POST CABINET PRESS BRIEFING SUMMARY
Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as the Honourable Edmund Dillon, Minister of National Security, addressed members of the media during the Post Cabinet Press Briefing today (Thursday 30th June, 2016) at the Office of the Prime Minister, St. Clair, Port of Spain.
Addressing the media, the Minister of National Security referred to the 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report by the US Department of State which was released yesterday. According to the report, Trinidad and Tobago remains on the Tier 2 watch list. Countries that fall in this category are not fully compliant but have made significant efforts with respect to the trafficking of persons, punishment of offenders and protection of victims.
The Government, since September 2015, has demonstrated a renewed political will to combat human trafficking to the extent where the funding for the Anti-Trafficking Unit has been increased. In keeping with Section 5 of the Trafficking in Persons Act 2011, the Government has established the National Task Force Against Trafficking in Persons which meets regularly to discuss matters pertinent to the Act. The task force comprises of the Minister of National Security (Chairman), the Minister of Foreign and CARICOM Affairs, the Attorney General, the Minister of Labour and Small Enterprises Development and the Minister of Social Development.
A National Task Force Steering Committee, comprising of the Permanent Secretaries of the aforementioned ministries, has also been established. This committee was tasked with developing a draft national plan of action which is currently before the National Task Force for consideration.
There have also been several sensitisation programmes and public awareness campaigns on the elements of human traffic as, in order to treat with this issue, members of the public must be on board. A number of training initiatives were also implemented in order to prepare law enforcement forces as well as the staff of the counter trafficking unit. Approximately one hundred and forty (140) law enforcement officers, investigators and Foreign Service officers have been trained in foreign languages (in particular Spanish), money laundering, cash seizures, human trafficking laws and sensitisation training. This will build the capacity to treat with issues of human trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago.
In terms of law enforcement statistics, there were fifty-three (53) human trafficking investigations and six (6) victims were identified. Three (3) Chinese and Venezuelans were charged with money laundering by the Financial Investigation Bureau, one (1) Trinidad and Tobago national was charged for money laundering and another was placed on twenty-one (21) charges as a child sex trafficker. Additionally, a local brothel owner was charged under the Trafficking in Persons Act.
One of the reasons why Trinidad and Tobago has remained on the Tier 2 watch list is the fact that there have been no convictions. The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and other agencies continue to work towards bringing persons charged before the court. In fact, most of the cases mentioned today are still before the court. The Ministry of National Security, and the National Task Force in particular, will do all that is required going forward to move Trinidad and Tobago to the Tier 1 watch list.
The Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Keith Rowley, also addressed the media.