Monday 23 September, 2019

Vincentian PM: Men complained after suspected sex workers deported

Vincentian Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that after several suspected sex workers were deported, he actually received complaints from several men about it.

According to a report by iWitness News, Gonsalves was speaking in Parliament on Thursday after an Interpol report included the Caribbean country as one in which human trafficking occurred. 

He said before the anti-human trafficking law was passed, that there were about 50 women from the Dominican Republic who visited St Vincent and the Grenadines for a holiday. 

He said however that he received complaints from "irate girlfriends and wives" about their activities. 

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“I had the Commissioner of Police immediately address the question, call in the two or three ringleaders, including somebody from St. Vincent and I got the report and I told the Commissioner, well, they say they have no money to go back to the Dominican Republic, what they want to do is to stay here to make some money to go back.

“So, I chartered a plane and I deported all of them one day. Deported every single one of them,” the Prime Minister said.

However he said after the women were deported, he again received complaints.

"Just as a footnote to this, Mr. Speaker, after they had been deported, a few husbands and other single men began to call me and email me and ask me what have I done," he said. 

15-year-old Trinidad & Tobago national stopped by immigration

Gonsalves said there was another incident in which a 15-year-old boy was stopped by immigration authorities from visiting his father who resided in St Vincent because his letter of authorisation had not been notarised. 

He said the boy's mother had sent him along with a letter saying he would spending time with his father over the Easter holidays.

“Immigration … detained the youngster because the letter was not notarised.  They did not consider this a sufficient letter to allow this child to travel and they were saying that the airline ought not to have put the child on the plane with just a simple letter without it being notarised.”

Gonsalves said that after further inquiry, the child was allowed to enter St. Vincent.

The Prime Minister, giving another example, said that there was a Chinese restaurant in SVG, which he had been told was one of the better ones that had “three or four persons who had work permits to work at this restaurant, including a husband and wife, who were the owners".

Gonsalves said the issue of human trafficking is one his government takes very seriously.

“I give this to show the manner in which we address this question. We do so in a vigorous way...it is a matter which we are very, very focused and sensitive on,” he said.

According to a BBC report, Interpol-coordinated Operation Libertad rescued victims who were forced to work in nightclubs, factories, markets, farms and mines throughout the Caribbean and Latin American region.

The raids were the result of a project funded by the Canadian government.

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Officers from various Caribbean islands were involved, including Aruba, Curacao and the Turks and Caicos Islands, as well as in Brazil and Venezuela.

Operations were directed from Barbados and supported by Interpol command centres in Lyon, France and Argentina's capital Buenos Aires.

Officers told harrowing tales of women forced to work as prostitutes near gold mines where they could not escape and where it was difficult for authorities to find them.

This is one of several Interpol projects under its global human trafficking task force, which is backed by G7 security ministers.

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