Turks and Caicos government silent on sex trafficking report
PROVIDENCIALES, TCI - According to the US State Department 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report, the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) is a destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. The local government has, however, remained silent on the issue.
According to local experts, the large population of migrants in the TCI from Haiti, the Dominican Republic, and Jamaica are vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labour, with stateless children and adolescents especially at risk.
Local stakeholders, including law enforcement officials, have reported specific knowledge of sex trafficking occurring in bars and brothels and noted trafficking-related complicity by some local government officials was a problem. Anti-trafficking legislation introduced in 2012 remained pending.
The absence of specific legislation prohibiting trafficking as defined by the 2000 UN TIP Protocol; the absence of victim identification, screening, and protection procedures; and limited awareness of human trafficking on the part of officials and the public continued to hinder anti-trafficking efforts, the State Department said.
In a sitting of the House of Assembly this week, opposition leader Sharlene Cartwright-Robinson noted that, while the TCI government was quick to speak out against a report that sought to blacklist the territory as a non-compliant tax haven, the government has been silent on multiple reports that include the islands among countries where there exists forced sexual labour.
“This also has negative implications for our country’s reputation. I wait to hear the government’s official response on this issue and then to address where these reports are coming from and to deal with the issue,” she added.