By Latrishka Thomas
A High Court Judge has ruled in favour of the prosecution, declaring that legal proceedings will progress for the varying human trafficking charges brought against the former proprietor of a local nightclub.
Cheryl Thompson of Paradise View, who operated the Jam Dung Nightclub, is charged with three counts of debt bondage in relation to human trafficking, five counts of human trafficking, and two counts of receiving benefits from the services of trafficked persons.
Those charges were first laid against the accused on June 1, 2018.
Thompson’s lawyer, Fitzmore Harris, argued that the magistrate erred in committing the matter to the High Court because the elements of offence of human trafficking had not been satisfied.
He also posited that it was an abuse of process to put his client on trial.
However, Justice Ann-Marie Smith denied the defense’s application to impose a stay on the proceedings since the prosecution successfully outlined all of the elements of the offences.
The judge therefore ordered that the matter be listed for trial when jury trials resume.
It is believed that between January 2018 and February 2018, Thompson trafficked several Jamaican women to Antigua and Barbuda for the purposes of sexual exploitation by means of deception; received monies from the services of the trafficked women in circumstances where she knew or ought to have reasonably known that the said person was trafficked; and engaged in conduct that caused the women to enter debt bondage.
These are said to be the second round of human trafficking accusations that have been brought against Thompson.
Reports are that in 2011, the police filed over 40 human trafficking-related charges against her.
But the charges were dismissed in 2014, because penalties under the Trafficking in Persons (Prevention) Act were declared unlawful by the High Court.
It was then ruled that the Act gave magistrates excessive powers, which breached other aspects of the country’s laws.
As a result, the Act was amended in 2015 to remedy the breach.