Trade Union Representative in the Senate, Raymond Roberts, is warning Grenadians that the country is not immune to human trafficking.
Roberts made his plea to Grenadians as the 16-month old New National Party (NNP) administration implements legislation to combat human trafficking.
During his contribution to The Prevention of Trafficking in Persons Bill, 2014 which passed in the Upper House of Parliament last week Wednesday, Sen. Roberts urged his countrymen and women to understand that human trafficking is real.
“Grenadians don’t be fooled, Grenada is not immune to human trafficking “, Roberts said, as he acknowledged that women and children have suffered the most.
The government took the legislation to Parliament in order to give legal effect to the United Nations protocol to suppress and punish the offence of trafficking in persons, especially women and children,
The legislation seeks to supplement the UN Convention against Transnational Organised Crime, 2000 and to combat the trafficking of persons, as well as provide measures to protect and support trafficked persons.
The Trade Unionist believes that those exploited in human trafficking are promised so much for so little and unfortunately they succumb to the promises, which lead them in some cases to become drug mules.
“Children are similarly exploited often through illegal adoption. Parents being fooled by people dressed in the latest suit, an angel smile and again, a devil heart in the dark of the night,” he told the Senate session.
Roberts said that the labour movement around the world has been a major champion against human trafficking and for lobbying governments to implement legislation to combat human trafficking.
He commended the NNP administration for taking this legislation to Parliament as the document is a very important one that captures every possible aspect relating to the offense of human trafficking despite the reality of knowing that those making millions and billions from the illegal and immoral act would find ways to work around legislation that prohibit their business.
While supporting the legislation, Sen. Roberts is suggesting the inclusion of public flogging or even hanging as part of the punishment.
This, he said will serve as a wake up call to those who think they can get rich by shortcut methods.
“They ought not to be sent to prison on honeymoon, they should be treated as (they) deserve,” he told the Senate.
The Bill, presented by Culture Minister Brenda Hood, forms part of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) legislative requirements.
According to Sen. Hood, an estimated 2.4 million people round the world are trapped in modern day slavery in the form of “human trafficking,” which affects men, women and children across the globe.
She said that these people often times find themselves being enslaved in forced labour and domestic servitude and at times sexual exploitation.
She pointed out that human trafficking is a global enterprise earning those involved in the crime more than US$32 million.
“It is a Crime that is shameful for every human being,” she said.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Sheldon Scott welcomed the new legislation, saying it is timely in order to address the problems affecting developing countries, as well as to protect victims and potential victims.
Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, Jester Emmons, reminded the Senate that children are valuable and that every measure must be taken to protect them.
Sen. Emmons agreed that the penalties for the human trafficking offenses are not stiff enough and that harsher penalties should be given.
Under the legislation, persons found guilty of engaging in organised crime face a fine of $1,000,000.00 or a term of imprisonment for 25 years or both.
Anyone found guilty of engaging in or facilitating human trafficking faces a fine of $500, 000.00 or a term of imprisonment of 25 years or both.
In addition, anyone found guilty of trafficking a child can be subjected to a fine of one million dollars or to a term of imprisonment for 25 years or both.
The law also makes provision for a person found guilty of trafficking a child for sexual exploitation to face a fine of $1,000,000.00 or to a term of imprisonment for 25 years or both.
Under the law, one convicted of using the services of a trafficked person can open himself to a penalty of $25,000.00 or a term of imprisonment of five years or to both.
Harbouring someone guilty of trafficking faces a fine of $200,000.00 or a term of imprisonment of 25 years or both.
The comprehensive 32-page document on human trafficking also makes provision for the deportation and repatriation of victims of human trafficking as well as compensation of victims by the convicted person.