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MINISTRY OF NATIONAL SECURITY

ADDRESS BY SENATOR THE HONOURABLE EMMANUEL GEORGE MINISTER OF NATIONAL SECURITY AT THE OPENING CEREMONY FOR HUMAN TRAFFICKING SUBJECT MATTER EXPERT EXCHANGE

Date: Tuesday, 13th August 2013 Venue: Police Training Academy Time: 8:00am

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago relentlessly continues to seek to eradicate human trafficking - a modern day form of slavery. In 2009, the Government, through the Ministry of National Security, engaged the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to assist in addressing the issue of human trafficking and thereafter Cabinet approval was granted for the Implementation of a Nine-Month Plan to develop a policy framework that would inform the drafting of legislation to give effect to the protocol to Prevent, Suppress and punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children (also referred to as the TIP Protocol). A Multi Sectorial Task Force was established to oversee this Nine Month Plan. The Task Force, chaired by the Ministry of National Security and comprising representatives from various Ministries, Non-Governmental Organisations was entrusted with the responsibility to formulate a comprehensive counter trafficking legislation for the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago. The Trinidad and Tobago Trafficking in Persons Act No. 14 of 2011 was subsequently debated and passed in Parliament on June 9th 2011. The Act was thence proclaimed by the President of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago with an operative date of January 2, 2013. This Act adopts a victim-centered approach and offers many social benefits to victims. The government utilized the period between Assent of the legislation and its proclamation to establish the administrative mechanisms that would allow for implementation of the legislation immediately upon proclamation. We continue to work in partnership with Civil Society to provide aid to victims and we continue ion our efforts to staff the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU) and collaborate with local and international organizations to promote public awareness. The collaboration between the Ministry of National Security and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) since 2005 to address specific aspects of migration management is a demonstration of the commitment of the Government to implement the requisite legal and administrative measures to treat with the issue of trafficking in persons.

The Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago recognizes the important role of IOM and as such IOM Port of Spains Terms of Reference was renewed for the period March 2013 to February 2015. IOMs current mandate in Trinidad and Tobago is to assist with facilitating the training of public officials, Counter Trafficking Initiatives including the public awareness campaign and the establishment of the National Task Force and CTU, repatriation of and immediate assistance to victims. IOM has been actively engaging in this mandate and is a strong partner in Trinidad and Tobagos efforts against the scourge of Human Trafficking. The first human trafficking case was brought to CTU in March 2013 and involved sex trafficking of three (3) Colombian women. This case represents the first prosecution under this new legislation. Two Trinidad and Tobago nationals are currently before the Court a Police Officer: the alleged trafficker; and his associate. Other cases involving public officials are currently being investigated. All our victims are under the care of the Ministry of National Security which continues to partner with the NGO community and IOM to provide basic care and protection for victims, communication with their families abroad and Consular representation. However, in spite of local efforts, this transnational organized crime continues to overwhelm small-island developing states such as ours. In addition, the Trafficking in Persons legislation is new to Trinidad and Tobago and the country is therefore faced with a number of challenges. The biggest challenge is appropriate housing and shelter for victims and adequate protection. There is not yet a dedicated shelter for trafficking victims and CTU relies on half-way houses and shelters built for victims of domestic violence. There is currently limited accommodation for male victims and child victims. Current shelters are not equipped to address the special needs of trafficking victims such as foreign language capabilities and the need for victims to lead normal lives while under the care of the State. Over the next two days, as you discuss and exchange ideas and strategies on how best we as a small-island state can overcome these challenges and reduce both the demand for and supply of male and female victims. Let me take this opportunity to thank the Embassy of the United States, Trinidad and Tobago Defence Force, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service and all
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the participants who are here today for engaging in what we hope will be a very lively and fruitful exchange of ideas and best practices. Ladies and Gentlemen, I thank you!