People Trafficking in New Zealand CWLANZ and ANZRATH Raise Awareness

CWLANZ and ANZRATH (Aotearoa and New Zealand Religious Against Human Trafficking) have joined together to raise awareness about the crime of people trafficking in New Zealand.  The subject is raised regularly so members can keep membership and their communities alert for the signs that exploitation is happening in their area.  The following is a precis of a talk given to the members of the Lower Hutt Branch last year.

An estimated 40.3 million people were victims of modern slavery in 2016 worldwide.  Of those 40.3 victims, 24.9 million were in forced labour.  They were deceived and forced to work under threat or coercion in industries such as construction, agriculture, horticulture, viticulture and fishing.  It is also particularly rife in the service industry.  Almost two thirds were in the Asia – Pacific region.  Therefore, New Zealand is not immune to this crime.

It is one of the world’s largest criminal industries, earning exploiters $150 billion a year.  With only 9,000 convictions globally in 2015, it remains a low risk, high profit crime with no signs of slowing down.  It is happening in New Zealand.

What is modern slavery and human trafficking?  Modern slavery is the umbrella term to refer to human trafficking, slavery and slave like practices such as servitude, forced labour, forced marriage, the sale and exploitation of children and debt bondage.

The definition of People Smuggling is the facilitated entry of an unauthorized migrant into New Zealand for financial or other material benefit. (Immigration NZ)

The desire to migrate for better opportunities is exploited by recruiters, agents, and employers.  Why don’t they complain or leave their exploitive situation?  Victims rarely identify themselves as victims.  The first trafficking conviction was in 2016 and the accused was jailed for nine and a half years and ordered to pay $28.000 to his victims.  At the same time another case was before the courts involving a New Zealand couple accused of exploiting five victims.  The case was brought by Immigration NZ.  There have been a number of arrests and court cases since.

What are we doing to address human trafficking and modern day slavery in New Zealand?  There is a growing Influence within Immigration NZ and the Ministry of Business and Innovation to work through an all government approach, partnering with stake holders in New Zealand, and to engage regionally and internationally.

If you or anyone you know, suspects that human trafficking or exploitation is happening you have three contacts to choose from – If an emergency,

  • Call 111 for police;
  • Labour Inspectorate contact centre 0800209020;
  • Crimestoppers www.crimestoppers.nz.org.