Human Trafficking in St. Vincent and the GrenadinesThe issue of human trafficking is a major concern for both the people and government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, and efforts are ongoing to reduce and eliminate this problem. With the country having an average criminality score of 3.3 per the Global Organized Crime Index, its government has been keen on reforming the laws to bring traffickers to justice and help their victims.

Human trafficking in St Vincent and the Grenadines involves forced labor in farming and cannabis production, sexual exploitation of women, arms trafficking and child trafficking by caregivers. Victims usually comprise Vincentians and foreigners from other Caribbean islands, South America and Asia. The Global Organized Crime Index also recognizes that people who work for foreign/international companies that have set up shop in St Vincent may be vulnerable to exploitation.

Although the country has not totally resolved the human trafficking problem, it has made progress in punishing criminals and protecting women and children. The government has taken several steps to combat human trafficking, including the following:

The Punishment

The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines has taken measures to combat trafficking by implementing training programs for law enforcement. The programs aim to give out stricter punishments to traffickers in order to make the consequences proportionate to the seriousness of the crime. This training also covers tips on identifying victims and providing resources for them.

The national police force has an Anti-Trafficking In Persons Unit (ATIPU), and it has been active since 2012. This unit monitors high-risk areas such as bars, airports, restaurants and seaports to swiftly detect signs of trafficking or smuggling of people from overseas.

For border control, the police force has a Special Services Unit that watches people entering and exiting the country. In addition, St Vincent has collaborated with international organizations such as the Regional Security System to control immigration and prevent smuggling within its borders and around neighboring countries. These actions highlight the nation’s willingness to accept external help in its fight against trafficking.

Raising Public Awareness

In St Vincent and the Grenadines, the fight against trafficking extends beyond the police force to include nurses, teachers, students and members of the wider society who have received training from ATIPU’s summer camps. So far, the unit has trained 426 students and 400 nurses and teachers to identify trafficking and prevent it. The government has also launched printed and digital advertisements as well as radio campaigns to raise awareness of trafficking among the citizens and help them recognize the signs of it. To encourage reporting, the government set up a hotline for individuals to report any suspicions of trafficking, enabling everyone to play a role in combating the problem.

Looking Ahead

The government of St Vincent and the Grenadines continues to combat trafficking by not only enacting laws to prosecute traffickers but also helping and supporting victims, as well as training law enforcement and educating the public to be more alert for signs of trafficking. These efforts show promise in eradicating trafficking and creating a future where it is no longer a concern for the inhabitants of the country.

Faron Spence-Small
Photo: Wikimedia