A 61-year-old businessman has become the first person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) to be charged with human trafficking.

The businessman, Adrian Deane, of Brighton, appeared before the Kingstown Magistrate Court on Tuesday, charged with three counts of engaging in human trafficking.

He was granted EC$80,000 bail and the matter has been transferred to the Serious Offences Court, where he is scheduled to appear on Monday, when the date for a preliminary inquiry is to be set.

Head of the Criminal Investigations Department of the Police Force, Superintendent of Police Ruth Jacobs, did not comment on the nationalities of the persons Deane is alleged to have brought to St. Vincent and the Grenadines, adding that human trafficking is a sensitive matter.

I-Witness News understands that the persons that Deane is alleged to have trafficked are Jamaicans.

The charges come three months after the United States State Department released its 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, in which it placed SVG on its Tier 2 Watch List, a downgrade of the 2014 ranking.

A Tier 2 Watch List groups countries that 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, and for which:

  1. a) the absolute number of victims of severe forms of trafficking is very significant or is significantly increasing;
  2. b) there is a failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons from the previous year, including increased investigations, prosecution, and convictions of trafficking crimes, increased assistance to victims, and decreasing evidence of complicity in severe forms of trafficking by government officials; or
  3. c) the determination that a country is making significant efforts to bring itself into compliance with minimum standards was based on commitments by the country to take additional steps over the next year.

In 2014, SVG was ranked Tier 2, which groups countries that do not fully comply with the TVPA’s minimum standards but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards.

The government of SVG has continually protested the nation’s placement on the report, saying that it does not provide any evidence of the crime occurring in SVG.

The State Department has repeatedly said that no one is charged with human trafficking in SVG, but the Gonsalves has responded, saying this is the case because there is no evidence of the crime having been committed in SVG.

“If you read the Human Trafficking Report, you will get a better sense of the friends and enemies of the United States than you do the countries that are more seriously grappling with human trafficking,” Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. Camillo Gonsalves, said in September at the beginning of a two-day seminar on Human Trafficking Prevention.

The report says that human trafficking is a growing problem in Latin America and the Caribbean, a region, it says, contains major source, transit, and destination countries for trafficking victims.

The report says major forms of trafficking in persons in the region include commercial sexual exploitation of women and children, labour trafficking within national borders and among countries in the region (particularly in South America), and the trafficking of illegal immigrants in Mexico and Central America.

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