CTU: Police investigating disappearance of migrant at Heliport

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

The Heliport in Chaguaramas. Photo by Sureash Cholai

Director of the National Security Ministry’s Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU) Dr Samantha Chaitram has said that police are investigating the disappearance of a Venezuelan woman who was detained at the Chaguaramas Heliport.

She revealed this on Friday at a joint select committee meeting of Parliament which sat to discuss the treatment of migrants.

Earlier this week, the Caribbean Centre for Human Rights wrote to National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds about “disturbing reports.”

It claimed there was alleged ongoing sexual abuse of women detained at the heliport and that it was being done by administrative staff.

It added that one of the detained women went missing after she reported that she was allegedly sexually abused there.

Committee chairman Senator Dr Muhammad Yunus Ibrahim asked if there have ever been any reports of “impropriety” at the heliport. Chaitram said yes and confirmed that a woman “escaped,” or “was absconded,” three weeks ago.

“That matter has been referred to the police and inquiries remain ongoing at this time.” Ibrahim then asked if there had been any other instances of such and Chaitram said no.

“Thus far, we have had this one report and we have referred it to the necessary (authorities).

Ibrahim said he was “stumped” to hear there was only one such instance. He then asked acting Deputy Commissioner of Police (Intelligence and Investigation) Curt Simon to elaborate on the topic.

Simon said, “We, with the Carenage police, are continuing inquiries into that report. We did get some useful information. The investigation is pending as we have not yet located the individual.”

Many committee members raised the fact that many women do not report sexual abuse out of fear.

Committee member Opposition Senator Jearlean John said it is “obvious” issues like these occur at the heliport and asked, “(Is) there nothing we can do?

“We don’t have to wait for new laws, new policies, etc. If there is sexual abuse, the victims are there, the perpetrators should be easily identifiable because I think the access to these places are very limited.

“So I don’t understand why they are not brought swiftly to justice…Really and truly, I think we are very tardy in terms of treating with these issues.”