National Security Minister Fitzgerald Hinds has announced that a special court is being set up to deal specifically with matters of human trafficking and sexual offences.
However, he gave no timeframe.
Speaking on I.95.5 FM on Sunday, Hinds said the Judiciary has already begun the process of identifying certain judges and certain magistrates who will deal especially with these cases to fast track them.”
He pointed out the fact that Chief Justice Ivor Archie issued a ‘Practice Direction’ via the Trinidad and Tobago Gazette on January 23, 2023.
This move by Archie was aimed at establishing and designating Trafficking in Persons (TIP) and Sexual Offence matters as appropriate for special procedures of the court.
He said the intention of that was to immediately establish a special criminal court within the Criminal Division of the High Court.
This information, Hinds added, has been made available to the United States Government in response to its Trafficking in Persons Report 2022, in which this country remained on the Tier 2 Watch List.
Hind said: “We are, according to them, in some failure to provide evidence of increasing efforts to combat severe forms of trafficking in persons, including increasing investigations…prosecution and convictions.”
He said at this time eight human trafficking matters were committed to stand trial where the preliminary inquiry would have been done at the Magistrates’ Court and the magistrate found that a prima facie case was made out and there was sufficient evidence to send it to the High Court.
The minister also revealed that “between 2013 and 2022, 40 files were submitted to the DPP by the police for the DPP’s consideration as to what will happen with these.”
He added that there are 54 preliminary inquiries at the Magistrates’ Court level ongoing as well.
In addition, seven matters at the summary court proceeding stage.