Woman charged with human trafficking
ROYSTON JONES JR.
Guardian Staff Reporter
Published: Oct 08, 2013
A 23-year-old Jamaican woman charged with trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution in The Bahamas was denied bail yesterday because she was deemed a flight risk.
Apolonia McClean-Smith was arraigned before Acting Chief Magistrate Joyann Ferguson-Pratt. It is alleged that she fraudulently facilitated the arrival of one Jamaican woman into New Providence between May 1 and May 22.
McClean-Smith was also charged with unlawfully withholding the woman’s Jamaican passport and other travel documents between June 1 and July 1.
She was also charged with transporting the woman through The Bahamas for the purposes of prostitution between May 27 and July 1 in contravention of the Trafficking in Persons Act.
McClean-Smith, a mother of two, pleaded not guilty to all of the charges.
Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Vinette Graham-Allen asked for bail to be denied as McClean, who married a Bahamian man in May 2011 and has a spousal permit, remains a Jamaican national with a Jamaican passport.
Graham-Allen also argued that McClean has no permanent address in The Bahamas and is unemployed.
McClean’s attorney Tonique Lewis strongly denied that her client was a flight risk and said there is no evidence she would not appear at her trial if granted bail.
Lewis told the court that McClean’s and her two childrens’ passports have been confiscated.
But Graham-Allen said the accused could interfere with witnesses in the matter and she said there are many means of leaving the country.
The accused burst into tears as she was denied bail and remanded to Her Majesty’s Prisons.
Ferguson-Pratt said given the “grave importance” and serious nature of the allegations, the case will be given priority.
November 28 and 29, December 11 and 18 and January 29 were set as trial dates.
Ferguson-Pratt said she expects the matter to proceed expeditiously with no “willy-nilly adjournments” because the court made special accommodations for the trial.
On February 10, 2013, Jamaican national Chevaneese Sashagaye Hall, 23, became the first person to be charged with trafficking in persons for the purpose of prostitution in The Bahamas.