…suspects woman was TIP victim
THE Barbados government says it “will not be threatened or abused in any way” when complying with its duties under the laws of Barbados as it gave a detailed account of a joint police and immigration operation at certain locations in the capital, Bridgetown, earlier this month.
Home Affairs Minister, Edmund Hinkson in a lengthy statement regarding the operation on November 8, said that a Guyanese national was among several people held.
“She was found in a particular bar clad only in a man’s shirt. She ran from Officers and was located hiding in the cellar of the bar. She was not in possession of any means of identification and was detained by the police for further investigations to be conducted,” he said.
Hinkson said that after the investigations, the unidentified woman was released into the custody of immigration officers after it was determined that she previously been deported from the island in 2017 after she was found in a bar scantily clad and working as an exotic dancer in contravention of existing laws.
Hinkson said she was subsequently deported on October 9, 2017 and following her detention earlier this month, “admitted that she was the same person who had been deported from Barbados” a year ago. But he said that during her detention she expressed fear for her life and that of her family and declined to reveal any further information regarding her entry into the country or the acquisition of the passport in another name.
“She, however, indicated that she wanted to return home to Guyana as soon as possible. She was not in possession of her passport. However, she was allowed, as her human and legal right entail, to contact a friend via telephone who she stated was in possession of the passport.”
But the Home Affairs Minister said she was overheard informing the other person on the telephone of admitting her real identity to the Immigration Department. “The individual to whom she was speaking was overheard ridiculing and rebuking her for doing so. It was agreed that the passport would be brought to the Immigration Department at the Airport in order to facilitate her exit from Barbados to her homeland. To this day, that passport has not been received or brought.”
Hinkson said that male visitors subsequently visited the woman “and subsequent to those visits, she appeared uneasy and agitated and in fact recanted her admission. “Based on her change in behaviour, it is strongly believed that some form of manipulation was exerted on her by these visitors to her,” he said, adding that “given her expression of fear for her life and that of her family and the withholding of her passport, the Human Trafficking Unit of the Royal Barbados Police Force was informed and is presently conducting investigations”.
Hinkson said that the Consulate of Guyana, the country of her citizenship, as well as the Interpol (the International Police Department) were also informed of the situation. In his lengthy statement, Hinkson recalled the attempts to place the woman on a flight to Guyana, noting that “she refused bluntly to go to the aircraft on each occasion.
“This is important because an airline is not going to take someone who is resisting on the airline because of possible security issues on the flight.” he said, adding that last weekend she was placed in a secure location. “She was in fact detained along with three other female Colombians, who were pending deportation as well,” he said, adding that she finally left the island on Sunday November 18.
“She was witnessed by several persons, including airport personnel and immigration officers, willingly boarding the flight. There was no issue of resistance or her dragging and kicking to board the flight. Had that been the case she would not have been allowed on the flight. “She eventually travelled on a Barbados Emergency Passport along with the copy bio-page of the passport on which she last entered Barbados. These are the facts of the case,” he said, indicating that Barbados is party to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
He said the Convention has been enacted into the laws of the island “so a person who for the purpose of exploiting, and by exploiting it includes by abusing their position of vulnerability; fraud, deception and such a person who recruits someone into Barbados is guilty of trafficking in persons and is liable to a fine of one million dollars or 25 years in prison, or both”.
Hinkson said that human trafficking is an international problem where the vast majority of the world unites in its fight against this situation. He said under the 2016 Act, a person who acts as another person’s manager, employment agent or as their solicitor of clients, who knowingly procures, destroys, conceals, removes, confiscates or possesses any travel documents, including a passport, belonging to another person….is guilty of an offence and is liable on conviction to a fine of a quarter million dollars or to imprisonment of 20 years or both.
Hinkson said that the Barbados police have the authority to investigate human trafficking and are obliged to do that under the laws of the island and in pursuance of the international obligations of Barbados under this United Nations Convention.
“I am fully satisfied that this is what the officials of the Police Force and the Immigration Department have done pursuant to the arrests which were made arising from that operation two Thursdays ago. “We will not be threatened or abused in any way from complying with our duties under the Laws of Barbados in our various capacities and in seeking to ensure that the Laws of Barbados are complied with, and that issues relating to human trafficking are as far as possible removed from the territory of this country,” he added. (CMC)