The Department of Home Affairs and National Security has added its voice to the significance of the observance of Labour Day, this past Saturday, May 1, 2021, within the context that Labour Exploitation is sometimes understated and misunderstood by the public. According to the government department, labour exploitation represents one of the illegal elements of the criminal offence of Trafficking In Persons.
The term “forced labour” as defined in the Counter-Trafficking Act of Saint Lucia 2010, refers to “labour or services obtained or maintained through force or the threat of force, or other means of coercion or physical restraint”. The legislation also cites as a criminal act, engaging in any form of commercial sexual exploitation including but not limited to pimping, profiting from prostitution, maintaining a brothel and child pornography.
Trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation may occur in both the formal and informal economies. Men constitute most of the identified victims of labour trafficking, in sectors as diverse as agriculture, construction, hospitality and fisheries.
Women are also victims of trafficking for labour exploitation, often in the more isolated settings of domestic and care work.
Although the identification of victims of trafficking for the purpose of labour exploitation is challenging, the public is called upon to remain vigilant and report any knowledge of such activity to the relevant local authorities including the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) the Department of Labour or simply call the 847 human trafficking hotline.