St Kitts and Nevis has put new legislation in place to crack down on human traffickers on that island.
Garth Wilkin, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs says the new laws will crack down on those who either smuggle people illegally into the country or use it as a transshipment point to facilitate the trade.
“We are trying to deal with the smuggling of persons into the Federation. We have created a standalone Anti-Smuggling Bill and amendments to the Immigration Act and the Transnational Crimes Act to address this issue which is becoming heightened and a more frequent national security matter,” he said.
The most recent known case of trafficking according to authorities in St Kitts and Nevis is the situation where a migrant boat, which left Antigua and Barbuda with 30 Cameroonians on board, sank in its territorial waters.
Wilkin recalls that sixteen of the West Africans died at sea while fourteen Cameroonians and their two alleged Antiguan human traffickers were brought to St Kitt’s.
Meanwhile, the St Kitts and Nevis government is sticking to its decision to grant the Cameroonians Asylum Seeker Certificates.
Under the arrangements of their Asylum Seeker Certificates, the government will house the migrants at an apartment complex for a period of 90 days while their applications are processed.
Some of these migrants had engaged in a hunger strike, telling the St Kitts government that they wanted to communicate with the US Embassy for the Eastern Caribbean and to be allowed to live with relatives and friends that are in Texas.
“It was explained to the Cameroon nationals that these demands fall outside of the remit and authority of the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis, save and except the granting of access to communicate with the US Embassy,” the government said.