HUMAN traffickers may be using children to conceal their cargo of women being shipped to TT for prostitution and other illegal activities, according to the Minister of National Security.
Speaking at a press briefing on Tuesday, Stuart Young said the use of children was a "typical red flag" in the crime of human trafficking. He said while children "pulled on the heart strings" of people, it was a trend law enforcement authorities are familiar.
Young said there has been a sustained effort to catch people involved in human trafficking and admitted that law enforcement authorities were complicit. He questioned how lawyers are able to get full lists of people detained, their passport numbers, ages and other information, while the suspects are in police custody and sometimes do not even have any identification on them.
"Who is providing those details," he asked. He guardedly admitted that several people were under investigation for human trafficking by the police and noted several police officers were charged and are before the courts.
He said there were number of minors in protective custody who are witnesses against accused human traffickers. Asked what was the extent of law enforcement involvement in human trafficking and what steps have been taken to remove them from active duty in the first instance and charge them for the criminal offence, Young said there were a "number of operations" under way to target some of the human traffickers and the Commissioner of Police had identified some police divisions as being complicit.
Young agreed that while human trafficking was not a new occurrence it had increased significantly and does not think only police officers were involved in the crime.
He said whoever was involved hopefully one day will be brought before the courts, be it politician, police, coast guard officer, defence force officer or immigration officer. Young said that officers can only be sanctioned and removed from active duty if they were charged.
In giving an update on the investigation into the Drugs Sou Sou probe, which involves a number of police officers and soldiers, the minister said he expected "certain things to happen soon."
He also noted that it was impossible to enforce physical distancing in prisons but separate facilities have been earmarked to house suspected cases. Young said while the Mercy Committee, which he chairs, had agreed to release eight prisoners who were convicted of murder the process had to be redone to allow the prisoners an opportunity to be heard in keeping with a decision of the Privy Council.