Prosecutor’s Office knows nothing about sex trafficking of local students in Holland

POSTED: 08/22/13 12:36 PM

Sources TiP-report remain a mystery

St. Maarten – The Trafficking in Persons report the American State Department published in June has the full attention of the government, Prime Minister Sarah Wescot-Williams said at yesterday’s press briefing. On Monday, the PM discussed the report with Justice Minister Dennis Richardson, without going into its details.

Wescot-Williams said she did not know where the information the report contains is coming from. One of the observations in the TiP-report is that some girls from St. Marten that go to the Netherlands for study purposes end up in the prostitution as victims of sex traffickers.

This newspaper also posed several questions about the report to the Public Prosecutor’s Office. “What we have noticed is that the report mentions information stemming from authorities in St. Maarten,” Solicitor-General Taco Stein responded. “Maybe you ought to pose your questions to those authorities, because the information did not come from us: we have not been consulted about this report.”

The Tip-report states for instance that “15,000 illegal immigrant workers are highly vulnerable to forced domestic service and forced labor.” Furthermore, the report claims: “Local experts report that women and girls studying in the Netherlands may be vulnerable to sex trafficking by residents in the Netherlands.”

Stein: “These statements are totally unknown to us. There has been a case of exploitation, but that dates back to 2007. I cannot imagine that the report refers to that case. During the past couple of years we have not seen any complaints or reports about these issues.”

The third observation from the report we put to Mr. Stein was: “The government launched an investigation into trafficking-related complicity involving high-level officials.”

“We know absolutely nothing about that,” Stein responded.

The report also noted that in March 2013 an investigation started into the involvement of high-level civil servants, including ministers and Members of Parliament. This seems to be a reference to the Orca-investigation – the alleged bribery of MP Patrick Illidge by Bada Bing owner Jaap van den Heuvel. The name of former Justice Minister Roland Duncan was also mentioned in this investigation. He was interrogated by the National Detective Agency.

Stein about the remark in the TiP-report: “I have the impression that the media are the possible source for this information.”

The solicitor-general added that the only investigation that involves a brothel is indeed the Orca-case. “That is ongoing and at the moment there is nothing new to report about it other than that it is in full swing and that we are satisfied with the current state of the investigation up to now. Earlier there was of course the Priest-investigation (Border Bar – ed.); that could be considered as a human trafficking case. But the investigation is old; Manon Ridderbeks was the prosecutor for that case and she left St. Maarten already a year ago. That case ended with a conviction.”

Mr. Stein added that he is not ready to speculate about what others have said. “Maybe it is possible to track down the sources for this information,” he concluded.

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