National Reporting Bureau on Human Trafficking continues to monitor local developments and take action when required

18 October was observed as Human Trafficking Day within the Kingdom of the Netherlands. Human trafficking is the acquisition of people by improper means such as force, fraud or deception, with the aim of exploiting them, and the Sint Maarten National Reporting Bureau on Human Trafficking (NRB) which falls under the Ministry of Justice continues to work to prevent the aforementioned from taking place on Sint Maarten.

The NRB has received several reports of possible cases of Human Trafficking. Those reports were all alleged cases of labor exploitation. None of those victims requested or was in need for shelter or special care. The NRB referred the cases to the Inspectorate of Public Health, Social Services & Labor and the Labor Department for the necessary investigations and possible actions.

The Minister of Justice recently approved and signed the “Temporary Residency” policy guideline. This policy guideline has been published in the National Gazette. The policy guideline establishes the conditions in which victims and witnesses of human trafficking can receive a temporary residency permit. This is one of the policy instruments implemented according to the action plan Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report 2014. Through the “Temporary residency” regulation victims are given the opportunity, and are being encouraged to assist in the investigation and prosecution of the offenders of human trafficking.

Currently the NRB is preparing for another public awareness campaign, and also periodically organizes information sessions for the representatives of immigrants, the business community and the tourism sector.

On a quarterly basis, the NRB visits all brothels and dance clubs throughout the country. Information is provided about the NRB and how it can be reached should there be an issue of human trafficking. A separate meeting is also held with the establishment owner.

Twice a week, the Mobile Control Unit of the immigration and Border Protection forms part of the Interdisciplinary Control Team, which carries out inspections of special selected establishments in the country.

The type of establishments that fall under this control are: Clubs, Hotels, Security companies, Daycare centers, Construction companies, Beauty salons, Car rental companies, Laundry cleaning companies and Restaurants.

The goals of these controls are: to enforce the labor and health regulations by the employers (working hours, safety measurements, overtime payment); to enforce that the Employers pay the social & health insurance of the employees; to enforce the national ordinance of admission & expulsion; to enforce fire safety measures and building codes; to enforce economic regulations (operational licenses, business licenses); and to establish whether the guidelines and rules against human trafficking are adhered to.

The NRB also works closely with the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Organization as well as Safe Haven and will meet twice yearly with family doctors, St. Maarten Medical Center, Community Police, Ambulance Services, and the Border Control/Mobile Unit with respect to information update/indicators regarding human trafficking.

The Ministry of Justice has been working with Kingdom partners based on a Memorandum of Understanding which was updated in June 2011 and signed by the Ministers of Justice within the Kingdom.

In August, 2013, the Minister of Justice adopted a Plan of Approach from the National Coordinator for Human Trafficking for the executing of the agreements made in the MOU of the partners within the Kingdom, and also for the execution of the recommendations of the TIP Report 2013.

In September, 2013, the National Coordinator established the NRB as the executing agency for prevention and protection on Human Trafficking.

Smuggling of migrants involves the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident.

Virtually every country in the world is affected by these crimes. The challenge for all countries, rich and poor, is to target the criminals who exploit desperate people and to protect and assist victims of trafficking and smuggled migrants, many of whom endure unimaginable hardships in their bid for a better life.