Stiffer penalties coming for human trafficking offences

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The first step toward increasing the penalties for human trafficking offences in Antigua and Barbuda has been completed.
The Lower House passed the Trafficking in Persons Prevention Amendment Bill 2018 on Thursday and now it has to go to the Senate.
Attorney General Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin explained that the proposal is to remove the option of a fine or a term of imprisonment and replace that with mandatory imposition of both forms of punishments if someone is found guilty of human trafficking.
Specifically, the Amendment of section 13 the principal Act is amended “by repealing the entire subsections (6) and (7) and substituting the following— “(6) A person who commits the offence of trafficking in persons or who facilitates that offence is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding four hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years. (7) Every person who receives a financial or other benefit knowing that it results from the offence of trafficking in persons commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding four hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years.” 
Benjamin said the Bill also seeks to amend the law when it comes to punishing a person for promoting human trafficking.
Here too, the law is to be changed and a fine and confinement would not be optional, but both would be mandatory.
The proposed change outlines, “Amendment of section 24 The principal Act is amended in section 24—(a) by repealing subsection (1) and substituting the following— “(1). A person who advertises, publishes, prints, broadcasts, distributes or causes the advertisement, publication, printing, broadcast or distribution of information that facilitates or promotes trafficking in persons by any means, including the use of the Internet or other information technology; commits an offence and is liable on indictment to a fine not exceeding four hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty years.”
Benjamin also proudly announced the proposed introduction of changes to the human trafficking law where the child is the victim.
The special penalty where trafficked person is a child states, “(1) Where an offence under section 13 or 14 is committed in relation to a child, subject to subsections (2) and (3) and section 16, the person convicted for that offence is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding six hundred thousand dollars and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty-five years.”
It continues, “(2) Where an offence under section 13 or 14 is committed for the sexual exploitation of a child, subject to section 16, the person convicted for that offence is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine not exceeding one million dollars and to imprisonment for a term not exceeding twenty-five years.”
Benjamin said the penalties are going to be stiffer to curb the crime of human trafficking and it would bring the laws here in line with laws in other Caribbean Community countries and in compliance with international obligations accordingly.

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