From left to right: Superintendent of Police, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, Mr. Michael Veronique; Director of the Counter Trafficking Unit, Ms. Alana Wheeler; and Commanding Officer of the Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard, Captain (N) Don Polo at the training session on Effective Screening for Human Trafficking Indicators hosted by the Counter Trafficking Unit on January 19, 2022. (Image courtesy Ministry of National Security)

The Counter Trafficking Unit (CTU) in the Ministry of National Security is equipping Coast Guard officers with the necessary expertise for effective screening for human trafficking indicators, in a series of training programmes on the issue.

An official release from the Ministry reports that the CTU began first phase of the training on Wednesday 19 January 2022.  That four-day session was conducted at the Heliport Base, Chaguaramas, ending on Thursday 27 January 2022.  

The training provided four different groups of 20 specially identified border officers with the necessary tools to conduct preliminary screening of nationals and non-nationals for indicators of human trafficking, in an effort to prevent and suppress human trafficking activities at the country’s sea borders.

Participants described the training as being “quite relevant to their current duties”.

Training facilitators were Alana Wheeler, Director of the Counter Trafficking Unit; Michael Veronique, Superintendent of Police, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service; and Zaheer Ali, Legal Officer, Trinidad and Tobago Police Service.

At the opening ceremony of the training programme, Director Wheeler encouraged participants to make the most of this training opportunity, as the nature of their job involves interaction with migrants.

“Every migrant you come into contact with—whether or not a victim of trafficking—you have the ability to change their lives for better or for worse. By the end of this training, we hope that you choose to change their lives for better. The choice is yours,” she said.

Director Wheeler also reiterated the Ministry’s commitment to continue, through the CTU, the prevention and counteracting of human trafficking in all its forms.

To date, the Counter Trafficking Unit has delivered training to over 300 Coast Guard officers, with plans to continue training sessions with more groups in the upcoming weeks.