Police not giving up on human trafficking case

Fifteen human trafficking related charges have been reinstated against popular nightclub operator Cheryl Thompson.

This comes about a month after Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh dismissed those same charges because the police prosecution was not ready with the evidence file for the committal.

Today, they have reportedly made progress with the file which was missing two critical pieces of evidence which they were awaiting from the relevant agencies.

The police say this resulted in the indictable charges being reinstated overnight and Thompson is due in court today.

The woman who operates Jam Dung Nightclub on Nevis Street, is accused of five counts of debt bondage in relation to human trafficking, five counts of human trafficking and five counts of using the services of trafficked persons.

The offences were said to have occurred in the capital, St John’s, between November 2017 and February 2018.

All the charges followed a raid on the club in February this year.

This round of accusations is not Thompson’s first brush with human trafficking charges in Antigua. Seven years ago, she was accused of committing over 40 human trafficking-related offences.

But she successfully challenged the legislation which outlines the penalties, causing the case to be 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.

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