CoP Christopher probes human trafficking

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Police Commissioner Erla Harewood-Christopher

NEW Commissioner of Police, Erla Christopher has ordered an investigation into the allegations of human trafficking, now in the public domain, said a statement by the police service (TTPS) on Wednesday.

“Following a meeting with the director of the Counter Trafficking Unit, Commissioner Christopher appointed a special team of officers to investigate the matter.”

The statement said she gave the assurance that the matter will be vigorously pursued and thoroughly investigated.

It quoted Christopher saying, “These allegations of human trafficking are serious, and will not be taken lightly.”

While human-trafficking refers to the use/threat of force, coercion, fraud, or deception to exploit people in activities such as forced labour or sexual exploitation, the term is often used loosely in the TT media to simply mean the transport of women into TT for prostitution, whether voluntary or involuntary.

Last Friday in the House of Representatives Naparima MP Rodney Charles said the 2022 US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2022 alleged unspecified “government officials” were involved in human trafficking, repeating a claim in previous such reports.

The Prime Minister said investigations showed the report referred to current MPs but none on the PNM benches, while Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar doubted any Opposition MP could be regarded as “a senior official of the Government.”

In a statement to another newspaper on Tuesday, United States Ambassador to TT Candace Bond clarified that the term “government offical,” when used in the report, does include elected officials.

Activist Devant Maharaj said that as a former minister of the People’s Partnership he had undertaken a probe into an internal investigation into human trafficking in that government, but Oropouche East MP Dr Roodal Moonilal said he knew of no human trafficking investigation done into the UNC in 2010-2015.