Colombia rescues 49 women from ‘sexual slavery’

Police officers stand guard next to the area after an attack on the Station of the District San Jose, in Barranquilla, Colombia, in this January 27. 2018 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 21 August 2018

Colombia rescues 49 women from ‘sexual slavery’

  • A series of raids linked to the Operation Vesta launched several weeks ago resulted in 18 arrests last month

BOGOTA: Almost 50 women trafficked through underground tunnels to work as nightclub “sex slaves” were rescued from the tourism hotspot Cartagena, Colombian prosecutors said on Monday.
The victims — 26 Colombians and 23 Venezuelans — were allegedly forced into working as prostitutes in nightclub basements connected by a series of tunnels.
They were tricked with false promises of work before being held captive in “precarious conditions,” Attorney General Mario Gomez said in a press conference.
The victims were relieved of their passports and identity cards by a network of pimps engaged in the “sexual exploitation of women.”
A series of raids linked to the Operation Vesta launched several weeks ago resulted in 18 arrests last month.
Gomez said police were hot on the heels of the pimps’ headquarters and said they would be tried for “trafficking people for sexual slavery.”
Gomez said the “geographical corridors close to the Caribbean coast,” including Cartagena, provided the “majority of sexual tourism” in Colombia.
The US State Department has described Colombia as a “source and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex and labor trafficking.”


EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for UK trade deal

Updated 13 December 2019

EU warns of ‘challenging’ timeframe for UK trade deal

  • EU is concerned about the rapid speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe
  • Johnson has until July 1 to request for a trade talks extension

BRUSSELS: European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen on Friday warned of the tight timing for securing a trade deal with Britain, hours after Boris Johnson’s Conservatives won a crushing election victory.
“The time frame ahead of us is very challenging,” von der Leyen said, following a discussion by EU leaders on the way forward after Brexit, now expected on January 31.
On the “first of February, we go to work,” she said.
EU Council President Charles Michel warned that the 27 member states would not accept a deal blindly, stressing that the bloc would insist that Britain respect European norms to win the deal.
“There is no question of concluding a deal at any price, said Michel, who coordinates EU summits, after the talks.
“Negotiations are over when the results are balanced and guarantee respect for the different concerns,” the former Belgian premier said.
“We have a way of doing things based on experience, transparency and maintaining unity” in the EU, he added.
EU is worried about the breakneck speed with which Johnson would like to strike a trade deal with Europe and any British effort to undermine the unity among the remaining 27 members.
In a text released after the talks, the 27 EU leaders called for “as close as possible a future relationship with the UK” while warning that it “will have to be based on a balance of rights and obligations and ensure a level playing field.”
EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will direct trade negotiations, which the leaders will follow closely “and provide further guidance as necessary, fully consistent with the EU’s best interest,” conclusions added.
Johnson has until July 1 to ask for a trade talks extension.
If he refuses to extend the negotiation period, a no-deal Brexit will loom at the end of 2020, with Britain in danger of an abrupt cut in trade ties with Europe, endangering its economy.