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An unspeakable stench

There is something rotten in this land of ours, to misquote Marcellus in Shakespeare’s Hamlet and the stench rises to the highest heavens.

Whatever the magnitude and whoever the players are, the scourge of human trafficking in Trinidad and Tobago is an ugly reality that needs to be eradicated at every level.

While charges and counter-charges are being made on both sides of the political divide, the public is left to speculate as to wherein lies the truth. Perhaps we may never know the whole truth but we know that this is an evil that destroys the perpetrators, the victims, the families of the victims and the society at large.

Human trafficking is driven by an overwhelming greed for material wealth and power.

It revolves around a complete denial of the dignity of the human person and it brooks no opposition. It recognises no divine authority and scoffs at the idea of retribution, either in this life or in the next.

There is no justice, mercy or compassion to be exercised in this form of trade. It is wide-ranging and smears creation. There can be no denying that it is slavery revisited, marked by the very same brutality and inhumanity that we decry and condemn when we study the fate of many of our ancestors.

How can we believe, how can we accept, that there are monsters among us who look and speak and dress like us but behind whose guise of civility lies a destructive force that condemns men, women and even children to lives of utter misery, hopelessness and often self-abhorrence and whose only escape is often through death.

The trade in human flesh is carried out by people at the highest levels and by their servants at different levels of the society.  The victims may be people whom we pass on the streets or who live in our neighbourhoods, behind locked doors.

Let us not, as believers in our just and loving God, pretend that the stench does not fill our nostrils too.

The recent headlines in the print media arise from a United States Department of State 2022 Trafficking in Persons Report: Trinidad and Tobago, which alleges that while the Government of Trinidad and Tobago is “making significant efforts” to combat human trafficking, “Corruption and official complicity in trafficking crimes remained significant concerns, inhibiting law enforcement action, and the government did not take action against senior government officials alleged in 2020 to be involved in human trafficking.”

It is argued that ambiguity of language can lead to different interpretations of the persons referred to in the charge that senior government officials were alleged in 2020 to be involved in human trafficking.

Whatever the truth is, we the people cannot and must not accept that the reins of power in this country should ever be held by modern slave traders. This belittles and disempowers us and threatens our physical, emotional and spiritual safety.  This must never become acceptable or accepted as an inevitable aspect of the economic reality of twenty-first century life.

Whether human trafficking is carried out to satisfy the sexual perversions of an immoral or amoral minority or for filling the demand for cheap or slave labour, we demand that it be combatted at every possible level.

We must not be complicit in this trade of human degradation and unspeakable suffering.