Rajesh Gurunani, a businessman convicted of three counts of human trafficking in Jamaica, has been ordered to pay a fine equivalent to $38,567 USD. The justice ruling on the case stated that his crime did not warrant a prison term, as long as he was able to pay the fee in full. The victims, who were recruited from India and not paid the wages promised to them, were given $1,000 USD as compensation for the emotional trauma they experienced.
Gurunani is the first person to be convicted since the 2013 amendment to the Trafficking in Persons Act, which made it possible for victims to be compensated.
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- Human trafficking is extremely lucrative, which is the primary reason opportunistic people choose to engage in it. Traffickers can make hundreds of thousands of dollars per victim per year.
- While we can celebrate the fact that Jamaican law now allows victims to be compensated, this case demonstrates that the scales are still tipped in favour of wealthy exploiters. Considering how much money traffickers can bring in, $38,567 USD barely even makes a dent in profit margin.
- While we do not know all the details of this case, there is room for concern that traffickers can negotiate a relatively small fine (which they can quickly replenish) instead of receiving jail time.
- To turn the tables on people willing to exploit others, the justice system needs to adopt a one-two punch of heavy fines (a significant portion of which would go to the victims), and jail time. Otherwise we may as well be dealing with a really expensive speeding ticket.
Photo credit: Barry Haynes, Creative Commons