By Julia Rawlins-Bentham
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (BGIS) -- Barbados’s continued Tier Two status on the trafficking in persons watch list by the US State Department, despite the country’s interventions on matters relating to human trafficking, is engaging the attention of attorney general and minister of home affairs, Adriel Brathwaite.
Attorney General and Minister of Home Affairs, Adriel Brathwaite
Brathwaite gave this assurance on Monday as he addressed law enforcement officials gathered in Barbados for the 34th annual Crime Stoppers International conference.
“I believe Barbados’ retention on the Tier Two watch list has much to do with a one size fits all approach by the US authorities and a misunderstanding of our legislative process and domestic laws,” he told delegates.
The minister explained that one of the main reasons for Barbados’s present status was the fact that the country’s Transnational Organised Crime Act did not include trafficking at the domestic level.
He explained that due to Barbados’s small size, it must be noted that the opportunities for moving people within the country in an organised fashion were extremely limited. Therefore, he added, the movement or trafficking of persons must be recognised as being distinct from the exploitation of persons.
“The provisions of the Transnational Organised Crime (Prevention and Control) Act, 2011 are on preventing transnational human trafficking,” he pointed out.
However, Brathwaite further assured those present that the country did have laws to deal with trafficking at the domestic level.
“In any event, there are other pieces of legislation under which one can be charged if there is domestic trafficking, [such as] the Offences against the Persons Act,” he stated, while expressing his confidence in law enforcement agencies to investigate and pursue all cases of human trafficking.
Brathwaite further asserted that Barbados would continue to intensify its training of police and immigration officers, and coordinate a public awareness campaign to educate the public about issues involved in human trafficking.
Since the establishment of the Transnational Organised Crime (Prevention and Control) Act, 2011, the National Task Force for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons was set-up under the chairmanship of the minister of home affairs.
In addition, the Royal Barbados Police Force established a Sex Crime and Trafficking Unit headed by an Inspector to investigate such matters in March of this year. To date, three people were arrested and charged for human trafficking and prosecuted. The victims of those crimes were also repatriated to their respective countries.