SABRINA MOWLAH-BAKSH, general manager of the Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV), is calling for better protection for migrants. She was responding to a shocking parliamentary report that highlighted a high level of sexual exploitation coupled with a dire lack of legal action against perpetrators.
Over six years (2013-2019), the police received 484 complaints of sexual exploitation of immigrants, yet not one alleged offender has ever been convicted, said the 18th Report of the Joint Select Committee (JSC) on Human Rights on the treatment of migrants in education, work and protection from sexual exploitation laid in Parliament last week.
“Out of 484 reports received there were 57 charges and zero convictions,” said the report.
Mowlah-Baksh was dissatisfied.
“The same yardstick of policing and justice has to be applied to the migrant community. Exploitation of any person, whether they are a citizen or not, must not be tolerated or encouraged.
“Women and children are always at more risk for exploitation. They must be protected at all costs and the lens of the law being applied only to citizens must be re-visited. Humanity and human rights must be factored into law enforcement.”
Mowlah-Baksh urged support for NGOs working with migrants.
“They provide critical support in many ways to migrant families ranging from psycho-social support to provision of essential supplies such as food, clothing, shelter and medicine.
“These interventions are outside the realm of state support but it is critical for arms of the state to complement the work of these NGOs and assume responsibility for crimes committed against this vulnerable community.”
Last month at a police briefing, Commissioner of Police Gary Griffith said the police are closely looking at officers suspected of being involved in sex trafficking so as to turn intelligence into evidence. Counter Trafficking Unit head Alana Wheeler at that briefing had lamented TT’s high demand for sex services. She said a child-sex-trafficking network from Venezuela to TT had recently been smashed. Suspects are still being hunted, including police officers ranging in rank from constable to inspector.