Seychelles taking a stance on human trafficking with first prosecution case
Seychelles has many migrant workers from mainly Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines. They are mostly employed in the construction sector. (Rajib Ghosh/flickr) Photo License: CC-BY 2.0
(Seychelles News Agency) - A first case of human trafficking in Seychelles is expected to be heard by the court later this month, said an officer of the Seychelles Police.
The case, which involves four Bangladeshi nationals, was reported to the police by the Seychelles' Labour Department last year.
The head of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the Seychelles police force, François Freminot, told SNA that the alert was raised after alleged reports of ill-treatment and non-payment of salary.
“The police did a thorough investigation into the complaints and gave the evidence to the Attorney General’s office. The Attorney General decided that there were grounds for prosecution and took the case – trafficking in persons -- to court.
The prosecution came after years of complaints by migrant workers on poor working conditions, non-payment of salaries, and retention of passports.
Seychelles, an archipelago in the Indian Ocean, has many migrant workers from mainly Asian countries such as India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.They are mostly employed in the construction sector.
The Political Officer for Seychelles and Mauritius in the United States Embassy in Port Louis, the Mauritian capital, Matthew Gerdin, said that while prosecution of traffickers is the first step in combating human trafficking, countries are also expected to ensure the protection of victims and prevent it from happening. Prosecution shows that a country is giving recognition to this global problem.
|Matthew Gerdin said that human trafficking is a global problem that excludes no countries and the U.S government is always ready to partner, collaborate and combat this global problem.(Seychelles News Agency) Photo License: CC-BY|
“The government of Seychelles is already doing sensitisation and campaigns. When the Trafficking in Person report comes out, we discuss the recommendations and the way forward with the government,” Gerdin said during a presentation on trafficking in persons with the local non-government organisation last week.
He added that human trafficking is a global problem that excludes no countries and the U.S government is always ready to partner, collaborate and combat this global problem.
“Trafficking in persons is modern-day slavery, using force, fraud or coercion to obtain or maintain compelled service of one person by another,” explained Gerdin.
It also involves forced labour and sex work and takes place in different sectors such as in domestic work, agriculture and fishing, said the U.S official.
The presentation comes a month before the publication of the annual Trafficking In Persons report in July. The report is mandated by U.S Congress through the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and is a diplomatic strategy tool that evaluates governments’ efforts to combat trafficking.
Last year’s report stated “that the government of Seychelles does not fully meet the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so.”
The report added that: “Despite these measures, the government did not demonstrate overall increasing anti-trafficking efforts compared to the previous reporting period; therefore, Seychelles is placed on Tier 2 Watch List.”
The island nation has finalised a victim assistance tool, which includes standard operating procedures for victims, protection in which the roles of government actors in the identification and protection of trafficking victims are outlined, a formal referral mechanism and trained law enforcement officers.
Gerdin says that ongoing trainings for capacity building are organised for Seychellois from the Labour Ministry, the police and the department of immigration. They are held in Botswana and Washington DC in the U.S.