Tuesday 29 September, 2020

Young: Anyone caught trafficking illegal immigrants will be arrested

National Security Ministry Stuart Young said the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS), Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard (TTCG) and other national security agencies will be searching for and detaining anyone involved in human trafficking or anyone harbouring illegal immigrants for profit.

Speaking at a media briefing on Saturday on COVID-19, Young referred to several incidents in which Trinidadians were caught bringing in illgal immigrants, saying they will be charged..

'The police are going to be launching operations. We have picked up a number of Trinidadians...bringing across illegal immigrants and they are going to be charged. The police shall be charging them.'

Young said the TTPS hotline 555 will be dedicated specifically for reports on human trafficking activity, adding that Venezuelans who are here legally will have their documentation revoked if they are caught harbouring illegal immigrants.

‘Anyone found engaged in illegal activity including the harbouring of illegal immigrants, your cards will be revoked. Any (legal) Venezuelan migrant found assisting in harbouring or bringing illegal immigrants into the country, your ability to be here will be revoked and you will be deported. Those who want to transact this business, you’re breaking the law and we will be taking action.’

He added that local Trinidadian businessmen who allow non-nationals to arrive and disembark illegally will be charged as well. 

He added that landlords who rent their premises to migrants must enquire as to whether they have the requisite documentation to be here.

‘All of those persons, including landlords, who want to capitalise and profit from illegal immigrants, they are putting us at risk from the spread of COVID-19.’

He said anyone caught knowingly harbouring illegal immigrants will be detained and condemned Trinidadians who were assisting in human trafficking.

'The truth is locals are involved in the scheme of human trafficking. When you are in a community and you know (who it is) call us at 555, give the information because those locals are putting the rest of the population at risk.'

Young’s statements come after concerns were raised regarding the possible spread of COVID-19 from illegal immigrants who enter the country without the requisite checks.

Under the Trafficking in Persons Act, anyone who, for the purpose of exploitation, 'recruits, transports, transfers, harbours or receives persons into or within Trinidad and Tobago...by means of threats or by the giving or receiving of payment of benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, commits the offence of trafficking in persons and is liable on conviction on indictment, to a fine of not less than five hundred thousand dollars and imprisonment of not less than fifteen years'.

On Saturday morning the Health Ministry announced five more positive cases of the virus - Chief Medical Officer Dr Roshan Parasram said the latest cases were primary contacts of case #142, bringing the total number of known cases to 147.

Dr Parasram confirmed that a Maraval school was closed after a student, a primary contact of case #142, exhibited COVID-19 symptoms after attending classes.

As a result, approximately 76 children and their families from the school will be under home quarantine for 14 days and are being monitored by health officials. 

Dr Parasram said from that case, there are approximately 200 secondary contacts who are also being monitored and isolated. 

He said all primary contacts of case #139, which was said to be local spread, were negative. There were also no positive cases from the primary contacts of case #141.

Dr Parasram added that there has been an increase in the number of community tests being submitted within the past week.

The Health Ministry is urging anyone with flu-like symptoms to stay at home and contact the hotline 800-WELL (9355) to determine whether they should be tested for COVID-19. 

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