Human traffickers and those who facilitate the offence can face up to 20 years in prison, and one million dollars in fines, once an amendment to the Trafficking in Persons Prevention (Amendment) Bill has been passed in the Senate.
This was the first law to be debated when members of the Lower House met this morning (Thursday). The Bill successfully made it pass the committee stage, with little debate and no objections.
During his contribution to the bill, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin explained that it is intended to impose fines and lengthy sentences on individuals found trafficking persons to and from Antigua and Barbuda.
Once a person is convicted of the offence, they face a fine of up to $400,000 AND up to 20 years in prison.
The Attorney General went on to explain the other changes that are to be made to the law on human trafficking.
In the law, there are also special penalties when the trafficked person is a child. The fine for such an offence is a fine of up to one million dollars and a prison sentence for up to 25 years.
This also applies in cases where minors are held against their will for sexual purposes.
Benjamin says the act also speaks to the offence of debt bondage.
A person who fails to give a police officer, conducting a search, access to computerised data can be charged, and if convicted, can be jailed for two years and pay a fine of $50,000.
Fines will also be imposed on individuals who move trafficked persons to escape the law. These individuals, upon conviction, face five years in jail and a fine of $150,000.
A person who has no lawful authority, but discloses information he acquires in the course of his duties, will face similar penalties with a fine of $10,000, if their disclosure leads to the identification of a trafficked person or witness.
This includes persons who work as investigators in various cases.
The original bill on human trafficking was passed in 2010.
Other bills including; the Sentence Reform Bill, the Drug Court Treatment and Rehabilitation of Offenders Bill, the Criminal Procedure Amendment Bill and the Advanced Passenger Information Amendment Bill were read for the first time today (Thursday).