Prime Minister Wescot-Williams Opens Protection of Vulnerable Immigrants Workshop

We need to ensure that we are not consciously or otherwise participating in the trafficking of human beings


The Prime Minister of St. Maarten the Honorable Sarah Wescot-Williams opened the training workshop to enhance institutional response under the banner of protecting vulnerable migrants. The training workshops, attended by various law-enforcement agencies, government officials and non-governmental agencies, will address the protection of asylum seekers, refugees, victims of human trafficking and children adversely affected by migration.


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The workshop was organized by the local branch of the Anti-trafficking in Persons (ATIP) Foundation in collaboration with the United Nations Refugee Agency UNHCR and the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the Government of St. Maarten in a continued effort to combat trafficking in humans and to ensure that institutional responses are adequate in dealing with numerous aspects of migration.

"I did not want to be here and I am sure you did not either," commented the Prime Minister. "I mean by that that I wish there was no reason to have this workshop on St. Maarten. But there is a reason that this workshop is being held in our country considering the issues with regards to immigration and trafficking in humans".

The Prime Minister continued by stating that, as St. Maarten will be celebrating Emancipation Day in the coming days it behooves all stakeholders to ensure that the people of St. Maarten are not consciously or otherwise participating in the trafficking of human beings. "St. Maarten, as a part of the Caribbean region, has also been part of the immigration flows and shifts which the Caribbean is known for. Many of our families had to leave this island in search of better economic opportunities and I am one of those whose parents needed to leave St. Maarten in search of a better life for their families. Now St. Maarten is on the receiving end in having people migrate to our country from not only the Caribbean region but also from outside. Therefore it behooves us to recognize that the attraction that St. Maarten has to immigrants also has the risk of having people with bad intentions coercing and forcing vulnerable persons into being trafficked to our shores. Human dignity and the abolition of discrimination in our society is one of the most important tasks which are being tackled and it is for this reason that this workshop is so very essential in combatting issues related to immigration and trafficking in humans" concluded the Prime Minister.

During the course workshops on national protection frameworks, screening of trafficking victims, detention facilities and third country resettlements will be conducted. The workshop will last until Friday June 29th. Also attending the opening ceremony of the workshop were The President of Parliament the Honorable Gracita Arrindell; Cassilda ven der Neut, President of ATIP Foundation; Ms. Chissey Mueller, Project Manager at IOM; Ms. Iris Blom of UNHCR Washington; Mr. Udo Aron, Director of Immigration; and Ms. Irene Simmons of the Ministry of Justice.