Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves and U.S. Ambassador Larry Palmer laugh during a ceremony on Tuesday to commission the Coast Guard sub base in Canouan. (IWN photo)

Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves says his government rejects the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2014, which says St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.

SVG is among countries on the State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List, which comprises countries whose governments, the State Department says, do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

“… we disagree very strongly with the designation of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a source and destination for trafficking in persons,” Gonsalves said at a ceremony on Tuesday where U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean Larry Palmer handed over the U.S. funded Coast Guard sub base in Canouan to the government.

“The fact that we have not prosecuted anyone in the last year does not mean that we have not identified potential trafficking victim.

“We cannot prosecute an offender if there is no crime committed during the reporting period,” Gonsalves said.

Gonsalves, who is also Minister of National Security and Legal Affairs, said three human trafficking investigations were initiated this year, compared to five in 2013.

“We can only arrest and charge if there is sufficient evidence to do so, and there is an independent office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and we continue to be very proactive in identifying any victim of trafficking and we carry out a widespread sensitisation programme,” he further said.

He said he tabled in Parliament a report on effort to combat human trafficking in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

“And there are many, many thing which we have done to comply with all the requisite standards, and I believe that the International Organisation for Migration would attest to the efforts that we have made. I also have in my hand the first quarterly report as is required under our law from the head of the Anti-Trafficking Unit, stationed at the Questelles Police Station to the Deputy Commissioner of Police,” Gonsalves further said.

“And I really would like the relevant authorities in the United States of America to come to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and rather than speaking to unnamed officials to speak to the people in the Anti-Trafficking Unit, to speak to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, so that any misunderstanding can be cleared up; because, like the United States, we are deeply committed to the fight against the trafficking in persons,” Gonsalves said.

In its Trafficking in Persons Report 2014, the State Department said  NGOs and local government officials in SVG “report that some adults pressure children under the age of 18 to provide sex acts to men in exchange for money or gifts; third-party prostitution of children under 18 is a form of human trafficking. Local officials and NGOs have also raised concerns regarding foreign women engaged in prostitution or foreign workers subjected to forced labour in or transiting through the country; foreign workers employed by small, foreign-owned companies have been identified as particularly vulnerable to trafficking,” the report said.

It further said men, women, and children “remain vulnerable to forced labour in the country, primarily in the agriculture sector”.

4 replies on “PM says SVG not involved in human trafficking”

  1. Claude Leach says:

    ” We can only arrest and charge if there is sufficient evidence to do so, and there is an independent office of the Director of Public Prosecution”…………What happens if and when the evidence is not gathered or if a system is not in place to gather the evidences and act on them; Is this the case in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines?

  2. Marlon Mills says:

    And how does the Prime Minister explain the Ministry of Education signing off on bogus Certificates for persons trafficked from Nepal under the guise of receiving training as Caregivers and false promises of job opportunities in Canada? The Prime Minister himself boosted that it was a ULP project did he not?

  3. Peter Binose says:

    I can confirm that story Marlon. The woman involved is an East Indian Vincentian, who held Canadian, Vincentian and Trinidadian passports. What was bad about that was that the SVG government gave them all air tickets to get them home when the whole thing blew up internationaly. But instead of giving them tickets to Nepal, they gave them tickets to Delhi which is about as far away from Nepal as SVG is from Canada. I was informed that some of them were stranded there for almost two years. They had no way of returning home, what eventually happened to them I do not know.

    But how about the brothel that was run at Villa Beach …
    Young girls brought here from Guyana and put to work in the bedrooms, best customer was a well known ULP man. His car was logged as being there several times a week.

    Same man who was logged at a later time at William Wise’s resort at Kitchen, several nights a week.

    Also a thrirteen year old local girl worked there, was taken to a Kingstown lawyer by her mother to start proceedings. The lawyer asked to see the girl on his own the following week, and at that time he offered her a computor course in return for sex, which she accepted. This was not learnt about for two years when she finaly told her mother.

    I have not heard of anything like this going on in SVG recently, but you can be sure it is. Of course there is the Cuban thing.

    There are Cubans coming here desperate to get out of Cuba, now they can travel to SVG with comparatable ease without a visa. There are about 200 of them here, they are working all over the island for wages half of what a Vincentian gets. They must be at risk of abuse.

    The Cocoa business world wide employes children, I should imagine the Americans may well have that in mind as well, I must say I don’t think that could happen here.

    So we are not squeaky clean and Gonsalves knows that, he has seen these matters written before, its not a surprise, because I wrote about them before as comments, on this very media.

  4. Marlon Mills please post the link or reference any article where the PM boasted that …”it was a ULP project”…and any relevant info’. Thanks!

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