Amendment to Immigration Act bolsters SKN’s stand against human trafficking, smugglingOn Friday, an amendment to the Immigration Act was made to put it in sync with the newly introduced Anti-Smuggling of Migrants legislation that was enacted that same day. Like the Anti-smuggling Bill which was tabled in the National Assembly, the Immigration Amendment Bill 2024 sought to increase the penalties for human traffickers and smugglers, as well as their accomplices. First tabled in February this year, the Immigration Amendment Bill and Anti-smuggling of Migrants Bill were the fruits of extensive consultations with entities including the Director of Public Prosecutions, Comptroller of Customs, Chief Immigration Officer, Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Commissioner of Police, White Collar Crimes Unit, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.According to Attorney General Garth Wilkin, the amendments to the immigration laws also sought to address people involved in shielding, harbouring, or transporting smuggled migrants into the country.Both Senator Wilkin and Member of Parliament for Constituency 3, Konris Ma6ynard, voiced concern over the extremely hazardous ways in which unscrupulous traffickers transport vulnerable migrants which often results in their demise.For offences related to the concealment of illegal migrants, the penalties have been raised from a fine not exceeding $50,000.00 and a maximum imprisonment term of 3 years to a fine not exceeding $100,000.00 and a maximum imprisonment term of 5 years. For transportation offences, the penalties have been increased from a fine not exceeding $100,000.00 and a maximum imprisonment term of 5 years to a fine not exceeding $200,000.00 and a maximum imprisonment term of 7 years. The Bill also closed loopholes by expanding the definition of what it means for a person to benefit from their involvement in people smuggling either directly or as an accomplice. It now includes “financial or non-financial inducement, payment, bribe, reward, advantage, privilege, or service, including sexual or other services”.“By aligning the penalties with those in the Anti-smuggling of Migrants Bill, 2024, we are sending a clear message that St. Kitts and Nevis will not tolerate human smuggling or any ancillary activities. These amendments are crucial in protecting the integrity of our immigration system and ensuring the safety and dignity of all individuals within our borders,” said Wilkin as he addressed the National Assembly on Friday. Click this link to join the SKN Source Whatsapp group for the latest news and updates right on your mobile device!  

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