COMMISSIONER of Police (CoP) Gary Griffith dismissed claims by the NGO Womantra that the police are being silent about attacks on Venezuelan women.
In a statement Griffith referred to a daily newspaper article in which Womantra alleged there were 484 complaints of sexual assault by immigrants over a six-year period but no arrests by the police.
Griffith said "once again" Womantra had got its facts wrong. He said the 18th Report of the joint select committee (JSC) on Inquiry into the Treatment of Migrants with specific focus on Rights to Education, Employment and Protection from Sexual Exploitation said "during the time period 2013-2019, out of 484 reports received, there were 57 charges,'."
This is correct, though the exact words of the report refer to: "The low rate of prosecution of cases of sexual exploitation during the period 2013-2019, that is, out of 484 reports received there were 57 charges and zero convictions."
The report, Griffith continued, also recognised the launch of the Special Victims Department (SVD). He explained the police created this unit to act as a central point for victims of all forms of violence. The SVD covers the Gender Based Violence Unit (GBVU), the Child Protection Unit, and the Sexual Offences Unit.
Referring to the launch of the GBVU in January, Griffith said the unit has had several meetings with Womantra. He said the GBVU has also participated in training exercises and Womantra was invited to be part of that.
Griffith identified the revamping of the 999 and 555 system and introduction of the emergency response patrols as other ways the police are dealing crimes against all women in TT, including migrants.
But he said, "None of these was ever used by Womantra to assist us."
Griffith claimed Womantra has not shared any information with the police but are "quick to criticise."
Griffith also recalled, "I was the one who led the raid when elderly women were kept in cages in Arouca."
He said he was leading the charge against "these brothels which are engaged in child prostitution, child pornography, human trafficking and abuse against women, in particular women from South America."
Griffith said an examination of the GBVU's work shows "nearly every week, someone is hauled before the court for domestic violence or attacks on women." He added," This weekend, we reported that two men were jailed for attacks on women."
On the recent attack of an 18-year-old Venezuelan woman, Griffith said two suspects are in custody, one is a special reserve policeman and the investigation is at a sensitive stage.
"I am not going to speak about it until charges have been laid. I won’t do anything to jeopardise the investigations."
He disclosed there have been discusssions between the Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU) director, DCP (Investigations and Intelligence) Mc Donald Jacob, members from GBVU and CAPA about sharing of data between the Child Protection Unit and CAPA, relating to migrant victims.
In July, Griffith said the GBVU met with the Living Water Community to disccus the development of a referral pathway to address police complaints of gender-based violence from the migrant population.