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Trinidad: Rescued Venezuelan girls in ‘safe houses’

By Shaliza Hassanali

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National Security Minister Stuart Young

(TRINIDAD GUARDIAN) — The 19 Span­ish-speak­ing girls who were res­cued by po­lice on Wednes­day dur­ing raids at a Chi­nese restau­rant in Wood­brook and homes in Diego Mar­tin and West­moor­ings have all been placed at an undis­closed lo­ca­tion rather than the Im­mi­gra­tion De­ten­tion Cen­tre (IDC) which lacks space.

Na­tion­al Se­cu­ri­ty Min­is­ter Stu­art Young made the dis­clo­sure at yes­ter­day’s post-Cab­i­net me­dia brief­ing at the Diplo­mat­ic Cen­tre, St Ann’s.

“As a re­sult of what took place yes­ter­day, there has been a flood of in­for­ma­tion from all over the coun­try to the au­thor­i­ties with hu­man traf­fick­ing,” Young said, as he not­ed po­lice be­lieve they had cracked a ma­jor hu­man traf­fick­ing and sex slave op­er­a­tions dur­ing the ex­er­cis­es in east and west Trinidad.

Since the res­cue of the teen girls, whose ages range from 15 to 19, Young said the T&T Po­lice Ser­vice has been con­duct­ing on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tions, while the Chil­dren’s Au­thor­i­ty and Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion had in­ter­vened.

“It was made more dif­fi­cult as these young girls can­not speak Eng­lish. The first de­ter­mi­na­tion that needs to take place in this sit­u­a­tion is who are the vic­tims, who are the per­sons who might have been par­tic­i­pat­ing,” he said.

Young said there is al­so a “sus­pi­cion that some non-Trinida­di­ans, not re­fer­ring to the Chi­nese nec­es­sar­i­ly, were the per­sons lur­ing young girls from Venezuela.”

How­ev­er, he said not all the in­di­vid­u­als ar­rest­ed were vic­tims.

“What I can say is that the girls at this stage are be­ing treat­ed very hu­mane­ly. We are very con­cerned about it.”

Young said it ap­peared some of the girls en­tered our shores il­le­gal­ly.

“If you en­tered il­le­gal­ly cer­tain pro­ce­dures can take place with re­spect to mi­nors. We have spe­cial fa­cil­i­ties which would fall un­der the Chil­dren’s Leg­is­la­tion which was pro­claimed and im­ple­ment­ed. So mi­nors don’t go to the De­ten­tion Cen­tre.”

Young ad­mit­ted that when it comes to fe­male mi­nors, “un­for­tu­nate­ly we have less re­sources to house fe­males, in­clud­ing our lo­cal mi­nors and that is some­thing we are work­ing on.”

He said he was prepar­ing a draft pol­i­cy to take to Cab­i­net on the is­sue and in a few days he will meet with the Unit­ed Na­tions Com­mis­sion­er for Refugees (UN­HCR), Liv­ing Wa­ters and Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion to deal with the draft pol­i­cy.

On an­oth­er note, he said the law dic­tates and man­dates that at­tor­neys, re­al es­tate agents and jew­ellers have to reg­is­ter with the Fi­nan­cial In­tel­li­gence Unit.

If a re­al es­tate agent sus­pects that a prop­er­ty they rent is con­duct­ing sus­pi­cious ac­tiv­i­ties, he said they are ob­lig­at­ed to re­port it.

Mean­while, the po­lice yes­ter­day cau­tioned the pub­lic against cir­cu­lat­ing pho­tos of the mi­nors who were res­cued af­ter they sur­faced on so­cial me­dia. In sev­er­al of the pic­tures, the young ladies looked de­spon­dent and re­lieved.

In a re­lease, the TTPS re­mind­ed per­sons that Sec­tion 34(1) of the Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons Act Chap­ter 12:10 states, “To in any way cause the iden­ti­ty of a vic­tim of hu­man traf­fick­ing to be re­vealed, con­sti­tutes an of­fence.”

The TTPS al­so quot­ed laws un­der the Sex­u­al Of­fences Act and the Chil­dren’s Act that fur­ther em­pha­sised that shar­ing these pub­lic im­ages were un­law­ful.

They re­mind­ed mem­bers of the pub­lic, “that for pur­pos­es of the law, it mat­ters not from where the of­fend­ing ma­te­r­i­al orig­i­nates.” They en­cour­aged the pub­lic to no­ti­fy the au­thor­i­ties if they came in­to pos­ses­sion of such ma­te­r­i­al.

Deputy Car­los Valero, who is a mem­ber of the for­eign pol­i­cy com­mis­sion of the Venezuela Na­tion­al As­sem­bly, al­so yes­ter­day thanked the T&T Gov­ern­ment for res­cu­ing the girls. In a post to his Twit­ter page, Valero de­scribed it as one of the most se­ri­ous cas­es record­ed against Venezue­lan mi­grants in T&T.

Valero, who al­so shared the front pages of yes­ter­days lo­cal news­pa­pers, al­so thanked the Gov­ern­ment for guar­an­tee­ing the hu­man rights of ado­les­cents and al­low­ing them to com­mu­ni­cate with their fam­i­lies and lawyers.

This article was posted in its entirety as received by This media house does not correct any spelling or grammatical error within press releases and commentaries. The views expressed therein are not necessarily those of, its sponsors or advertisers.

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