Published On: Mon, Feb 13th, 2017

Venezuelans want protection for women

human traffickingPORT OF SPAIN - Young Venezuelan women, deemed by the US State Department as “especially vulnerable” to being trafficked to Trinidad and Tobago to work as prostitutes, are among two groups of persons a new bilateral fishing agreement seeks to help protect.

A February 8 statement by Venezuela’s Ministry of Fishing and Aquaculture said the Venezuelan government proposed a new cross-border fishing agreement that covers not only fishing and the humane treatment of fisher folk from both countries (the other group), but also contraband, narcotics, arms and human trafficking. The agreement is before the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for consideration, the ministry said.

Venezuelan Fishing and Aquaculture Minister Angel Belisario said in a statement he “met with Trinidad and Tobago Ambassador to Venezuela Paul Byam to talk about fishing and aquaculture and to strengthen the friendship between our two countries.” The Venezuelan Fishing Ministry said: “In November 2016, a team from Venezuela’s fishing ministry, led by Belisario, met with T&T’s fishing authorities and presented them with a proposed Agreement that is being now evaluated by the neighbouring nation (T&T).”

“To that end, Ambassador Byam has ratified that this ‘brother nation’ (T&T) will work with Venezuela on matters related to fishing, human trafficking, human treatment of fisher folk, the exchange of information, fishing technology and other activities that strengthen the brotherhood between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela,” Belisario said.

Belisario said his meeting with Byam “underscored the topics of security, arms and human trafficking, as well as contraband and narco-trafficking, as the border between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago is a very dynamic zone for fishing activities.” He said the security forces of both countries are collaborating to protect workers of the sea and attack criminality.

Young Venezuelan women ‘especially vulnerable’

In its 2016 Trafficking in Persons Report, the US Department of State said: “Venezuela is a source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Venezuelan women and girls are subjected to sex trafficking and child sex tourism within the country, including some lured from poor interior regions to urban and tourist centres. Non-governmental organisations (NGOs) continue to report Venezuelan women are subjected to forced prostitution in Caribbean island countries, particularly Aruba, Curaçao, and Trinidad and Tobago.”

In the same report, the US State Department said: “Trinidad and Tobago is a destination, transit, and source country for adults and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labour. Women and girls from the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Venezuela, and Colombia are subjected to sex trafficking in brothels and clubs, often lured by offers of legitimate employment, with young women from Venezuela especially vulnerable.”

The US State Department went on: “NGOs noted the availability of children for commercial sex through classified ads and that children are subjected to trafficking for commercial sex by Trinbagonians and foreign sex tourists. Economic migrants from the Caribbean region, especially Guyana, and from Asia, in particular those lacking legal status, are vulnerable to forced labour in domestic service and the retail sector.”

US: T&T Govt not doing enough

The American diplomats said: “Immigration officials note an increase in international criminal organisations’ involvement in trafficking, and NGOs report young boys are coerced to sell drugs and guns. New brothels continue to open across the country, particularly in the east where they are incorporated into small bars and rum shops and are difficult to detect; NGO and police sources note that both prostitution and trafficking are historically dependent on police corruption. Law enforcement and civil society organisations reported some police and immigration officers facilitate trafficking and some law enforcement officials exploit sex trafficking victims.”

The US Department said: “The Government of Trinidad and Tobago does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so. Despite these measures, the Government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Trinidad and Tobago is placed on Tier 2 Watch List for the second consecutive year.”

It added: “Following the election of a new government in September 2015, the government demonstrated renewed political will to combat human trafficking. The Government increased funding for its anti-trafficking unit, which sustained efforts to identify trafficking victims and refer them to care. The Government also increased training for law enforcement, conducted public awareness activities, and adopted a national plan of action as mandated under the law. The Government reported one new investigation of a complicit official. It acknowledged a larger complicity problem, but has not held anyone criminally accountable, thus it has not effectively addressed the rampant complicity problem. The Government has never convicted an individual under its anti-trafficking law, including officials complicit in trafficking.”

Last year, Venezuela’s Public Prosecutor’s office (Fiscalia General) said in a September 28 statement three T&T nationals were arrested at the airport in Caracas for suspected human trafficking.

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