Kingdom partners sign MOU to tackle human-trafficking

PHILIPSBURG--The four partners of the Dutch Kingdom will continue to work together to tackle the "horrendous crime" of human-trafficking and -exploitation through a memorandum of understanding (MOU) signed at Sonesta Great Bay Beach Resort and Casino at the end of the meeting of the Justice Ministers of the Kingdom, on Monday.

Justice Minister Roland Duncan told the press that St. Maarten, Curaçao, Aruba and the Netherlands, by the Justice Ministers affixing their signatures, had agreed to continue the cooperation that had existed since the days of the Netherlands Antilles.

The aim of the MOU is also to create awareness, as it is hoped that awareness is protection for potential victims.

The agreement was one of the highlights of various meetings held among the four ministers over the past three days. Monday's session had "a very large agenda" that covered education of police and reports of the Kingdom Detective Cooperation Team RST, the Prosecutor's Office and the Attorney General.

Aruba Justice Minister Arthur Dowers, credited as the driving force behind the MOU, said "very good success" had been achieved in the past in "combating this very horrendous crime that we are seeing more and more in parts of the Dutch Kingdom."

Dowers said the countries, through Justice Ministers Duncan, Elmer Wilsoe of Curaçao and Ivo Opstelten of the Netherlands, were "committed to continue working on human-trafficking, adding that the United Nations had determined this as one of the most horrific crimes against humankind.
"It is a violation of fundamental human rights to traffic and exploit especially female victims. We also see male victims being exposed and exploited," Dowers said, adding that this was not an issue for only the Dutch Kingdom, but for humanity.

All partners in the Kingdom have domestic laws against human-trafficking and -exploitation and are parties to related treaties. However, Dowers said he understood that not all of the former Antillean islands had implemented all laws, but the changes to the Penal Code were "expected very soon."
The Aruba minister said there had been "support from the US" in particular, in the Caribbean, on this matter and the Dutch Government had made "a lot of efforts." There is "more experience on the other side of the Kingdom" on tackling human-trafficking, as the Netherlands has been dealing with this for much longer, he said.

Dowers said the Prosecutor's Office in Aruba was handling one case of human-trafficking at present.

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