Editorial: Disparities show up againPOSTED: 06/28/11 12:25 PM
Monday’s release of the United States Department of State Report on Trafficking in Persons reveals yet another area in which there are huge disparities between the partners in the Kingdom and that what is working in The Hague is not necessarily working on the islands.
One glaring piece of evidence in this regard that while all the necessary technical people are in place in The Hague to implement the law, there is no such staff on Bonaire, St. Eustatius and Saba, several months into their new status. Efforts in Europe may be a sign of regional and international leadership, but efforts in the Caribbean do not quite match up to taking the lead.
It is also clear that each of the three countries mentioned are in different places in terms of legislation. Curacao lags behind, while Aruba needs to improve enforcement mechanisms and the Netherlands needs to further adapt its legislation. We see this as something that these countries and St. Maarten can approach together, especially considering the recent agreement that was signed here in Philipsburg.
It is surprising though that the only mention of St. Maarten in the report is that the Netherlands is making in kind contributions to a hotline. With only that mention one cannot really quantify the problem with human trafficking that Minister of Justice Roland Duncan states is bigger than Aruba and Curacao combined. Media reports reflect some of the situation – the January 19 Ajada trajedy – being one such highlight, but there is a need to get more in depth information on what challenges the island has. Clearly we also have to approve the new penal code, which specifically criminalizes trafficking and forced labor. We also need to scale up information campaigns around commercial sex work to make sure that the people involved are doing it of their own free will. Much like abortion, engaging in commercial sex should be a woman or man’s own decision.
In either case trafficking is something that must be dealt with, next to the long list of other national and international priorities and commitments.