October 29, 2020

Trinidad: 2 in court charged with trafficking Venezuelans

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TraffickingBy Kevon Felmine From Trinidad & Tobago Guardian

Sandy Bedasie-Andrews is escorted out of the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with human trafficking. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL

After being arrested a week ago for trafficking two Venezuelan women, Sandy Bedasie-Andrews, the owner of the popular and her employee Eli Sylvester, had to spend another night in jail after police complainants failed to show in court.

When the matter was called by Senior Magistrate Lucina Cardenas-Ragoonanan in the San Fernando Magistrates Court yesterday, prosecutor told the court he had no facts on the case.

Cardenas-Ragoonanan stood-down the matter for just over an hour and when it was called again, neither Insp Haynes or WPC Hector, who laid the charges were present in court. This led to the annoyance of attorney Sheriza Khan, who along with Keith Scotland are representing Bedasie-Andrews and Sylvester. Khan asked for the matter to be dismissed on account of the officers’ absence.

She said both Haynes and Hector were present earlier and were fully aware that the matter would be called. She said she tried calling them three times on their phones but got no responses.

However, Seedan argued that it was the first time the matter was brought before the court and Cardenas-Ragoonan adjourned the matter until today, to give the complainants a chance to present their case. She said it was likely that it would be transferred to the Chaguanas Magistrate Court, which is currently housed at the Tunapuna Magistrates Court’s building.

Although the charges were not read, Bedassie-Andrews and Sylvester were still advised to apply for bail.

In a release from the Ministry of National Security yesterday, both accused were charged by the Counter Trafficking Unit () under the Trafficking in Persons Act, 2011 after they received a report from the Venezuelan Embassy. They are accused of harbouring and receiving two Venezuelan women, who were rescued by the CTU on November 11. Bedasie-Andrews was said to be the owner of Santa Maria Hotel, also known as “Dads Dan” of Bhagna Trace, Chase Village. She was also charged under the Sexual Offences Act for keeping a brothel while Sylvester was charged for assisting in the management of a brothel.

According to the ministry, the rescued women bring the count of people rescued by the CTU to twenty-six (26), since it was established in January 2013.

What the Act says

The Trafficking in Persons Act 2011, defines “trafficking in persons” as: “The recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, abduction, fraud, deception, the abuse of power, the abuse of a position of vulnerability or the giving or receiving of payment or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.” If found , a person is liable to a fine of not less than $500,000 and imprisonment of not less than fifteen years.

With regard to the keeping or management of a brothel, under the Sexual Offences Act Section 22: “A person who keeps or manages or acts or assists in the management of a brothel is guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to imprisonment for five years.”

IMAGE: Sandy Bedasie-Andrews is escorted out of the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court yesterday charged with human trafficking. PHOTO: TONY HOWELL

For more on this story go to: https://mail.google.com/mail/u/0/h/2ya7mzq23gvv/?&th=151606b4061e9cf6&v
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