PHILIPSBURG—St. Maarten has been upgraded to a tier one ranking, the highest level, for its significant efforts in combating human trafficking according to the 2015 Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report released in Washington D.C. by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, on Thursday.
Casablanca case cited as major accomplishment.
The news was announced by Inter-Functional Officer and Spokesperson for the US Consulate General in Curacao, Solmaz Sharifi, ahead of the report’s release.
The TIP report is the primary diplomatic tool the US Government uses to assess foreign government efforts to combat human trafficking. It does not look at how widespread the problem is, or how much it has been reduced, but looks only at government policies and responses, prosecution efforts, prevention efforts and protection of victims.
The report measures government efforts based on the Trafficking Victims Prevention Act, a law passed by Congress in 2000. Standards are derived from the United Nations (UN) protocol to suppress trafficking.
The three main areas are prosecution of traffickers, protection of victims and prevention of human trafficking.
Countries that have human trafficking problems are ranked into four tiers; tier one, tier two, tier two watch list, and tier three.
In the space of a year, St. Maarten has reached tier one, meaning it meets the minimum standards in combating human trafficking according to the UN Protocol and US Trafficking Victims Protection Act.
“It’s a very significant result for St. Maarten,” said Sharifi. “St. Maarten is probably the smallest country ever to be on tier one in the history of the report dating back to 2000. It has been in the report since 2012 but this shows very significant progress in just a few years. St. Maarten should be applauded for this accomplishment of last year.”
She cautioned St. Maarten is expected to continue making progress to retain its tier one status.
Sharifi indicated the Casablanca prosecutions back in November 2015 were “unprecedented in the Caribbean.”
“Six traffickers were prosecuted, three are still behind bars,” she said. “Casablanca is one of the biggest brothels in St. Maarten. The success of this case showed an incredible amount of strength on the prosecution side. There were convictions also in the previous Bada Bing case.
“On protection, 14 victims were rescued from Casablanca and 35 more victims were identified. All of these victims received services.”
The report gives credit to the multi-disciplinary law enforcement teams in St. Maarten.
Source: Daily Herald
St. Maarten achieves tier one ranking in 2015 Trafficking in Persons Report