St. Kitts – Nevis PM Douglas Speaks In National Assembly
Photo By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts – Nevis
August 25, 2008 (CUOPM)
Parliament in St. Kitts and Nevis takes measures Tuesday to comply with its international responsibilities to prevent, punish and suppress trafficking in persons.
While St. Kitts and Nevis has not traditionally known to be a destination for trafficked victims, there has been some evidence that attempts have been made to use the twin-island Federation as a transit point for that type of offence.
The Bill, which stands in the name of Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Dr. Denzil L. Douglas points out that the act of human trafficking has been seen as fundamentally linked to drug trafficking, money laundering and possible terrorist activity.
Part 1 of the Bill deals with the usual preliminary matters. Interpretation plays a key role in that it is important to present a harmonised position in terms of interpretation of commonly used terms for the purpose of combating trafficking.
Across the region and within the international arena, most countries should have similar terms describing the process of exploitation on a wide basis to not just cover the sexual aspects but those who are enslaved for various other reasons and who lack basic human freedoms. As such, the Bill gives meat to the constitutional framework that provides that no person in Saint Christopher and Nevis should be treated with such degradation that it is tantamount to slavery.
Clause 3 of the Bill criminalizes the act of trafficking in persons and includes all elements of the offense so that the persons who masterminds the trafficking is just as culpable as the one who actively participates in the offense.
Clause 4 speaks to unlawfully withholding identification or travel documents of a person as committing an offense. This addresses the element of controlling and restricting the movement of a person. The penalties are severe because the offense is very serious one that should be prosecuted with the full weight of the law behind it.
Clause 6 of the Bill gives the court the power to order the perpetrator to pay restitution to the victim and indicated the terms on which this would be done. The Bill also provides unusually, for the court to exercise discretion to increase a penalty where the circumstances have been particularly severe.
Clauses 16, 17 and 18 provide in various ways for the protection of the victim and for assistance to the victim. Special provision is made additionally in Clause 19 for the treatment of victims who are children.
Clause 21 of the Bill empowers the Minister to appoint a special task force to administer the various provisions of the Bill, while Clause 23 of the Bill deals with regulations.