IOM Supports Workshop on Migration, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago - IOM yesterday (24/11) helped to inaugurate a two-day workshop hosted by the Ministry of Labour and Small and Micro Enterprise Development of Trinidad and Tobago, with support from the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU) and the International Labour Organization (ILO).

The event at the Hilton Trinidad in Port of Spain targeted the island nation’s Ministry of Labour, major employer organizations and trade unions, and attracted over 80 participants.

The main aim was to raise awareness of Trinidad’s role as both a destination and transit country for regional labour migration and explain international labour standards concerning forced labour, as well as the global challenge of human trafficking.

“Too much migration today takes place at the hands of traffickers and smugglers and through irregular, unsafe and exploitative channels,” said Jewel Ali, IOM project coordinator in Port of Spain, Trinidad. “Too many migrants suffer gross abuses of their human and labour rights. Too many are obliged to take up work that falls far short of their actual qualifications.”

Following the proclamation of the Trafficking in Persons Act No. 14 of 2011, the Trinidad and Tobago government’s anti-human trafficking efforts have intensified and become more centralized through the newly formed CTU.

Reports from the CTU show that the country is now a transit and destination country for victims, especially women from Guyana, the Dominican Republic, Venezuela and Colombia.

Authorities report that in 2013 the unit actively pursued investigations into reports of human trafficking that led to the rescue of 13 victims, with ten people charged for the crime of human trafficking. Those charged included two police officers.

The CTU has set up safe houses that assist with housing and caring for adult female victims. These are funded and managed by local NGOs. With financial assistance from IOM, the unit also repatriated ten victims and assisted their reintegration in their countries of origin.

The unit also provided valuable information to the authorities in the Dominican Republic which led to the arrest of at least two Dominicans involved in trafficking women to Trinidad and Tobago.

The CTU, in conjunction with IOM, has also been providing training and sensitization to key agencies including the Ministry of National Security, Ministry of Labour and Small and Enterprise Development and Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The CTU also participated in a Joint Security Coordination meeting and the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between Trinidad and Tobago and Venezuela. The MoU will strengthen bilateral collaboration in intelligence-sharing, maritime and aerial interdiction of traffickers. Another counter trafficking MoU is also expected to be signed with Colombia.

As a result, Trinidad and Tobago has been upgraded from the U.S. State Department’s Tier 2 Watch List to Tier 2, according to the department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2014. Tier 2 status means that governments do not fully comply with the U.S. Trafficking Victims Protection Act (TVPA), but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance.

For more information please contact

Jewel Ali

IOM Trinidad

Tel: + 1868 623 2441 Ext 13138/9 or 627-6969