Two-day training course on 'Human trafficking/human smuggling' for immigration chain in the Caribbean Netherlands

A two-day training course on human trafficking/human smuggling took place on Bonaire on the 30th and 31st of May. The purpose of the training course was to train officials from the collaborating organisations within the immigration chain in the Caribbean Netherlands to become officers with special responsibility for handling cases of human trafficking/human smuggling. The training course was given by Henk Werson, liaison officer of the National Police for the Caribbean area and Venezuela.

Training Mensenhandel

Bonaire, and to a lesser extent Saba and St. Eustatius, are attractive destinations for migrants from the region due to the work prospects, excellent facilities and the presence of other migrants who can provide support. Once they are on the islands, illegal foreign nationals are vulnerable. Often they have had to incur significant debts which they owe to the networks involved in human smuggling and which they are unable to pay off. The consequence of this is that they end up being exploited through prostitution, in the construction or hospitality sectors. They may also become victims of criminal exploitation. Organisation such as the Immigration and Naturalisation Service CN (IND-CN), Labour Inspection of  Social Affairs and Employment (SZW CN), the Dutch Caribbean Police Force (KPCN), the Royal Netherlands Marechaussee (KMar) and Douane Caribisch Nederland (BCN) regularly come into contact, consciously or unconsciously, with victims of human trafficking. It is important that these organisations are able to recognise and address indications of people smuggling and human trafficking.

Topics which were dealt with interactively by means of case histories and videos included the difference between human trafficking/human smuggling, the crime scene in the region and the relationship with human trafficking and human smuggling, recognising indications of human trafficking, the legal options and, in particular, emphasising the cooperation within the organisations cooperating in the immigration chain in terms of approach and sharing information.

As trainer Henk Werson explains,

“Human trafficking or human smuggling is a typical crime that you have to go out and detect, because victims are reluctant to report it. That's why it is important that those working within the immigration chain recognise the signals on time. Prevention is better than cure."

The participants in the training course were officials from the IND CN, KMar, KPCN, Douane BCN) and SZW CN. For the first time the group of participants included officials from Sentro Akseso Boneiru, which is an organisation for care and social assistance on Bonaire. The training day was opened by Ingrid Sealy, IND CN Unit Manager.

The immigration chain invests annually in the area of competence enhancement and aims to strengthen and better position the immigration chain to tackle human trafficking/human smuggling in the Caribbean Netherlands. The immigration chain also wants to make society in the Caribbean Netherlands more aware of this problem, which also affects our islands.

Background trainer

In 2021 Henk Werson was seconded by the National Police as the police liaison officer for the Kingdom and Venezuela. He worked for years at the National Police on combating human trafficking at national and international level and is now trying to help combat human trafficking in the Caribbean area.