Parliamentary Secretary in the Ministry of Education Senator Harry Husbands yesterday sought to warn Barbadians that human trafficking was not just a trans-national crime, but a reality that they must face up to.
Leading off debate in the Senate on the Trafficking in Persons Prevention Bill, 2016; The Immigration ( Amendment) Bill, 2016; and The Criminal Assets Recovery Fund Bill, 2016, Husbands listed migrants, indigenous people and children among the most vulnerable groups.
Citing an International Labour Organization publication, he noted that 21 million people around the world had fallen victim to forced labour, which he said generated profits in the region of US$150 billion annually.
However, Husbands pointed out that if a broader definition of forced labour was used as many as 45 million people would be counted among the victims.
He argued that forced labour was the end result of human trafficking since victims usually had to repay the people who assisted them in getting into a country. In many cases, Senator Husbands said “pie in the sky” promises were made only for victims to discover that they had actually ended up in forced labour situations.
He recalled that a Guyanese man who came to Barbados with his father to work on a road in St George in the 1990s was put up in a house in Black Rock, St Michael and his passport taken but he was never paid.
“I said to him, you have to be lying about Barbados. It could never happen in Barbados and he went through in great detail with me he and his father’s experience as forced labourers in Barbados.
“So when we speak about these things and we speak as though they only happen elsewhere, or they only happen to other people, we are wrong.
“Sometimes they are happening right under our noses. The beautiful thing about this legislation is that [it] makes the point that people trafficking is not just a trans-national crime, . . . [it] occurs in this country by Barbadians to Barbadians, but does not have anything about people coming from abroad,” Husbands said.
He pointed out that domestic work, agriculture, construction, manufacturing and entertainment were the main sectors involved in the trafficking of people and hence forced labour.
The Government Senator said there were reports in the United States of people being trafficked from China or from India who ended up in domestic servitude for decades without being paid.
“We are not speaking about something that exists only elsewhere. These are experiences that we all hear about. . . . It is expected that these people prey in short on the most vulnerable – migrants, indigenous people and children.”
Noting that trafficking in children remains a profitable business, Husbands noted that this explains why adults who accompany children on visits to metropolitan countries have to give detailed accounts of their association with the children.