Friday, July 16, 2010

Diplomat wants US to back evidence

ST VINCENT-POLITICS-Diplomat wants US to back
evidence on human trafficking allegation
By CMC - Thursday, July 15th, 2010

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent, CMC – St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ permanent representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves, is calling on the United Sates to say where it got its evidence of human trafficking in the multi-island nation.

The United Sates State Department has placed the island on its “Tier 2 Watch List” of “countries whose governments do not fully comply with the Trafficking Victims Protection Act’s (TVPA) minimum standards, but are making significant efforts to bring themselves into compliance with those standards”.

But Gonsalves said the attitude of the United Sates reflects “backwards thinking”.

“They say, for example that St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not prosecuted anybody for trafficking in persons. Therefore there must be trafficking in persons. That is as if you say St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not prosecuted anyone for biological weapons therefore we must have biological weapons; St. Vincent and the Grenadines has not arrested any member of the Taliban therefore we are supporting the Taliban. That sort of approach is backward thinking...” Gonsalves said.

“You and I know on the ground that there is no trafficking in person happening in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves told journalists.

The United States, in its 2010 TIP report, said St. Vincent and the Grenadines “is a source country for some children subjected to trafficking in persons”.

It said those children were specifically for the purpose of sexual exploitation within the country and that SVG may also be a destination country for women in forced prostitution and men in forced labour.

“Reporting suggests that Vincentian children may participate in commercial sexual exploitation to supplement their families’ income,” the report said, adding that in those alleged situations, parents, relatives, or other care-givers receive in-kind or financial compensation or other benefits from a child engaging in sexual activities.

The report said there were suggestions that the number of victims trafficked allegedly trafficked to, in or through SVG “is comparatively small” but said information on the reported trafficking “is lacking, as the government has conducted no related investigations, studies, or surveys”.

But Ambassador Gonsalves said that Washington is “trying to prove a negative”.