St. Vincent and the Grenadines have recently been accused of human trafficking and have been placed on the United States government's State Department watch list for human trafficking and given received a second tier rating for human trafficking.
Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves has responded that this is not the case for St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
"St Vincent does not have trafficking of persons," Gonsalves said, adding that the country's placement on the list was greeted here with "utter shock and disdain."
Mr. Gonsalves has recently slammed the Prime Minister of Barbados for trying to prevent human trafficking in Barbados, and gone as far as threatening to pull St. Vincent from CARICOM. The Prime Minister of Barbados has given CARICOM nationals living illegally in Barbados six months to legalise their status on the island.
Prime Minister Gonsalves sent a letter on Wednesday to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton strongly expressing the government's displeasure and disagreement.
The UNODC, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, defines human trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
The State Department's human trafficking methodology is to rank countries on a three tier system.
Tier 3 is comprised of countries that are the most egregious participants in trafficking and are thus subject to heavy sanctions.
Tier 2 includes countries complicit in trafficking, but which, from the State Department's perspective, are making significant efforts to counter the problem; finally,
Tier 1 is comprised of countries not significantly engaged in the industry.