De Weever wants community involvement in combating traffickingPOSTED: 01/31/12 12:44 PM
St. Maarten – Minister of Public Health, Social Development and Labor Cornelius de Weever has called for labor inspectors and the community to do more to help the government combat human trafficking. He made the call at Monday’s launch of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Foundation’s website – www.atipnow.info – in the Dr. A.C Wathey Legislative Hall.
“Labor inspectors must be aware and follow-up on any tips that they receive and report accordingly. They will need the assistance of the public to report these cases to them. We are asking the public to help us as we try to combat this,” de Weever said.
The minister called the website launch commendable especially since it will allow the foundation to continue and expand their ongoing education and awareness campaign of the international growth of trafficking, its negative effects on human lives and how it affects persons living in the Windward Islands and abroad.
“This website will make it easier for victims to get a hold of ATIP members and will serve to educate those who do not know about the plight of victims of human trafficking,” de Weever said.
The website’s launch comes just days after officials in the local judiciary met representatives from the Dominican Republic and the International Police Organization (Interpol) to discuss how the countries can cooperate on immigration matters like trafficking. During the talks both sides expressed particular concern over the number of Haitians who travel to St. Maarten and are then later found on boats heading for the United States via other islands. The minister has also placed the launch in the context of several “close calls.”
“St. Maarten has had a few close calls when an Asian man ran away from the restaurant where he was working because of the abuse and the way he was treated. We had another close call when an Asian lady ran from the abuse she suffered in one of the mansions, and the case of the commercial sex worker whose client reported their living and working circumstances to the US embassy. On behalf of the people of St. Maarten I applaud the founding members of this foundation and hope that with this initiative those potential victims have a stronger voice that will help all of us break that chain of slavery and liberate all on St. Maarten from such heinous crimes,” de Weever said.