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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                

Trinidad & Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago has earned a reputation as an excellent investment site for international businesses and has one of the highest growth rates and per capita incomes in Latin America.

Trinidad and Tobago is the leading Caribbean producer of oil and gas, and its economy is heavily dependent upon these resources but it also supplies manufactured goods, notably food and beverages, as well as cement to the Caribbean region.

The Manning administration has benefited from fiscal surpluses fueled by the dynamic export sector; however, declines in oil and gas prices have reduced government revenues which will challenge his government's commitment to maintaining high levels of public investment.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Trinidad&Tobago

Trinidad and Tobago is a destination and transit country for women and children trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. In some instances, women and girls from Colombia, Venezuela, Guyana, Suriname, and the Dominican Republic have been identified as trafficking victims in Trinidadian brothels and casinos.   Additional reporting suggests that men from China and Guyana may be trafficked to Trinidad and Tobago for labor exploitation in construction and other sectors. Trinidad and Tobago also is a transit point to Caribbean destinations such as Barbados and the Netherlands Antilles for traffickers and their victims. - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Trinidad & Tobago.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.


Where Are the Missing People?

Peter Richards, Inter Press Service News Agency IPS, Port Of Spain, 6 Jan 2009

[accessed 1 January 2011]

[accessed 5 October 2016]

When 15-year-old Devika Lalman left her home a few days before Christmas to buy school supplies for the new academic term, her parents had taken all the necessary precautions to ensure her safety.   The mother of the Form Three student said she had also given her daughter a cell phone, but all calls to that phone have gone unanswered and the daughter has not been seen since.

"Almost all the women who disappeared left behind a pattern. Their cell phones were switched off. We also heard that they were transported from one house to another before being shipped out."   The Sunday Guardian newspaper, which carried out its own investigation, said that the "clandestine local trade, which operates through a well-organised network and is supported by several powerful agencies, is linked to an international human trafficking ring".   The paper said that children were being sold for as much as 34,000 dollars and adults for half that amount.   "They are mostly used as sex slaves and sometimes for slave labour. Sometimes, they are used to make pay-offs in the drug trade," the paper said, noting that the trafficking also includes young women who were being brought into the country from Venezuela, Colombia and Guyana.

"We recognise that legislation is critically important at this point because without proper legislation, which is really one of the handicaps in the social areas, we could not possibly move forward in terms of consequences for human traffickers," said the party's deputy leader, Dr Sharon Gopaul McNicol, a clinical psychologist.   She told a news conference that most of the human trafficking "takes place in small boats where people are drugged and shipped off to other countries, primarily those countries that people don't speak English so there is little chance of the victims being able to get away without much difficulty."


*** ARCHIVES ***

CARICOM report: Trinidad & Tobago officers involved in sex trafficking

Stabroek News, 20 July 2020

[accessed 20 July 2020]

[Official Complicity]

According to investigations carried out in the Venezuelan town of Tucupita, which included interviews with human traffickers, some of the gangs in the region are headed and operated by law-enforcement officers from Trinidad & Tobago.

One Venezuelan trafficker indicated that through his connection with elements in the T&T Police Service, he has been assured of protection by officers who advise him where to enter the country.

Another trafficker confirmed the claims, saying that he had been working with a police officer from Trinidad and Tobago who pays him to provide women for his T&T-based organisation.   Admitting that he was part of a gang that specialised in kidnapping Venezuelans and carrying them to T&T, he said the officer, a constable, is a member of an organised South American crime network.   He said they worked together to bring across the women, where they were forced to work, in many instances, as sex slaves and prostitutes.

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Trinidad and Tobago

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021 trinidad-and-tobago/

[accessed 28 June 2021]


The law prohibits and criminalizes all forms of forced or compulsory labor. The government enforced the law effectively, and penalties were commensurate with those for other laws involving denials of civil rights, such as discrimination. Forced labor cases are referred to the labor inspectorate for investigation. The government collaborated with India to extradite a forced labor suspect.


The government was generally effective in enforcing child labor laws, but penalties were not commensurate with those for analogous crimes, such as kidnapping. There were anecdotal reports of children working in agriculture, as domestic workers, or in commercial sexual exploitation as a result of human trafficking.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 23 July 2020]


The law provides basic protections against exploitative working conditions, though these do not apply or are poorly enforced for informal and household workers in particular. While the government has stepped up efforts to combat trafficking in persons, convictions have been lacking, and funding for services to trafficking survivors has been cut. Venezuelan women are especially vulnerable to sex trafficking.

The Protection Project - Trinidad & Tobago [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Trafficking in women and children for sexual exploitation is a growing concern in the entire Caribbean region. Millions of children in the region are victims of commercial sexual exploitation, sex tourism, pornography, underage domestic labor, and trafficking.

Sex tourism is reportedly on the rise in Trinidad and Tobago, and European and North American men are the main sex tourists. Tourist agencies and unlisted guesthouses apparently run the industry, by advertising package deals in magazines that include the costs of buying a woman.  Older men are known to recruit children for prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation, and it has been reported that girls across all socioeconomic strata often initiate sexual relationships with cab drivers in exchange for transportation or other goods.

Child labor is a problem in Trinidad and Tobago. Exact numbers of children who are working in Trinidad and Tobago do not exist; however, studies show that children on these islands are working as beggars and street vendors and are involved in prostitution and the drug trade.

AG: No evidence of human trafficking in T&T

Richard Lord, Trinidad and Tobago Guardian, 6 January 2009

[accessed 23 June 2013]

[accessed 27 February 2019]

Attorney General Bridgid Annisette-George says there is “no empirical evidence to show the existence of human trafficking in this country. In a brief comment on the issue Tuesday, Annisette-George said it must be noted, however, that T&T was part of a world which was shrinking in size through the effects of globalisation. She said given the vibrancy of the scourge of human trafficking in the international arena it was incumbent that T&T “be anticipatory in its approach to institute preventative/precautionary measures such as tightening our immigration policies and improving on capacity to patrol our borders.”

Human trafficking in Trinidad: Children being sold for over 200,000

Port Of Spain, 21 December 2008

[accessed 1 January 2011]

The Guardian newspaper of Trinidad published a disturbing report in which it alleges that human traffickers are on the prowl, looking to lure children and women to sell them for big money.   The report states that “children, because they live longer, are sold for over $200,000. Adults can fetch as much as $100,000. They are mostly used as sex slaves and sometimes for slave labour.   “Sometimes, they are used to make pay-offs in the drug trade — a well placed source informed the Sunday Guardian.”   The report stated that men owing drug lords are being lured into capturing humans, who will be sold for payment of their debts.   A source, pleading for anonymity for fear of his life, said victims were drugged almost immediately after capture and their cellphones switched off.

A Sunday Guardian investigation revealed that the lucrative human trafficking ring is operating in the Cascade/St Ann’s area, between Sangre Grande and Tunapuna, Diego Martin and in South.   Women have mysteriously disappeared from the Cascade area without a trace during the past year and “several straying young boys have vanished from the streets of San Fernando“.

The Department of Labor’s 2006 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor [PDF]

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2007

[accessed 1 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children in Trinidad and Tobago are reported to work in agriculture, scavenging, loading and stocking goods, gardening, car repair, car washing, construction, fishing, and begging.  Children also work as handymen, shop assistants, cosmetologist assistants, domestic servants, and street vendors. These activities are usually reported as being part of family business.  Children are also reported to be victims of commercial sexual exploitation.

CURRENT GOVERNMENT POLICIES AND PROGRAMS TO ELIMINATE THE WORST FORMS OF CHILD LABOR - In August 2006, the Ministry of Social Development published the Revised National Plan of Action for Children, which includes specific goals for combating commercial sexual exploitation of children and exploitive child labor. The National Steering Committee for the Prevention and Elimination of Child Labor, with the advice and support of the ILO, is participating in a project to withdraw and rehabilitate child laborers at two landfill sites in Trinidad and Tobago.


Human Rights Reports » 2008 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 25, 2009

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The law does not specifically prohibit trafficking in persons, but perpetrators could be prosecuted under several related laws. Although media reports asserted that trafficking in persons was a growing problem, law enforcement officials stated that they had no reports of trafficking of nationals to, from, through, or within the country. They acknowledged occasional irregular migration by foreign women, often for purposes of prostitution, who were deported when discovered.

SECTION 6 WORKER RIGHTS – [c] Although the law does not specifically prohibit forced or compulsory labor, including by children, there were no reports that such practices occurred.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery – Trinidad & Tobago",, [accessed <date>]