THE appointments of Stuart Young as Minister of National Security and Gary Griffith as Police Commissioner received a seeming endorsement from British High Commissioner Tim Stew, in remarks at a talk on human trafficking last week Friday.
The event, hosted by the NGC Bocas LitFest, British and American missions, UNTT, and the Caribbean Umbrella Body for Restorative Behaviour (CURB) was held at Bocas' Writers' Centre in Alcazar Street, Port of Spain, ahead of a screening of the movie Moving Parts later that day.
Stew described the two appointments as “significant developments.” He said, “I’ve seen the range of reactions, from the positive to the abstentions, the criticisms and the cynicisms.
"So let me just say this. When young women are stabbed or gunned down in your streets, apparently for doing no more than ending a relationship, when it’s accepted that drug-fuelled gang violence will erupt at a moment’s notice, when migrants to this country can find themselves ruthlessly exploited – then I join those who support a call for a new approach and a new team.”
Stew vowed to stand four-square with TT, shoulder to shoulder in tackling crime. “And I will put all the British resources available to me behind the new minister and new commissioner-designate as they get down to work.”
On human trafficking, Stew said the British government had introduced the Modern Slavery Act in 2015, with penalties from 14 years to life imprisonment. It also launched a Call to Action to end Forced Labour, Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking, which 70 countries have supported. This policy paper was sent to the UN in September 2017 and urged support for treaties, domestic legislation, local law enforcement and international co-operation to curb modern slavery and support victims.
“An endorsement of this Call to Action – as we have requested from the Government of TT – sends a strong message of political intent that your country will not tolerate this crime domestically, and will work with others to create a step-change internationally.”
Stew said next month the Call to Action will be put on an internet platform to show which countries have endorsed it and what they have done to implement it.
Calling human trafficking “an evil crime,” Stew said it has 40 million victims globally and generates US$150 billion per year in illegal profit, exceeding the entire US financial sector.
He said modern slavery/human-trafficking is a significant global problem that cuts across human rights, security and corruption. “Women and girls account for over 70 per cent of victims of this cruel problem,” he pointed out, and a quarter are children.