NZ a 'destination country' for sex trafficking

Photo / file
Photo / file

New Zealand is a destination country for foreign men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking, a US State Department report has claimed.

The department's 2014 Trafficking in Persons Report has also labelled New Zealand as a source country for children subjected to sex trafficking within the country.

"A small number of girls and boys, often of Maori or Pacific Islander descent, are subjected to street prostitution, and some are victims of gang-controlled trafficking rings," the report stated.

"Some children are recruited by other girls or compelled by family members into child prostitution."

Foreign men from Indonesia aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels in New Zealand territorial waters were also subjected to forced labor, debt bondage, confiscation of passports, imposition of significant debts, poor living and working conditions, and physical and sexual abuse, the report states.

Some Asian and Pacific Islander migrants who came to New Zealand to work in the agriculture and hospitality sectors, or as domestic workers were also subjected to forced labor, according to the report.

While New Zealand's government fully complied with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking, the report criticised the Government for not prosecuting any trafficking offenders n the last eight years.

"The government did not initiate any new investigations in 2013; three reported trafficking investigations from 2012 did not lead to prosecutions, despite evidence of forced labor."

The report recommended legislation to expand New Zealand's current anti-trafficking legal framework was enacted to prohibit and punish all forms of human trafficking.

It also recommended efforts to investigate and prosecute both sex and labor trafficking offences be significantly increased.

Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said new legislation was in the pipeline to enable further action to be taken "should evidence of trafficking emerge".

"Although all notified allegations of trafficking are investigated, there have been no substantiated cases of people trafficking.

"However, we remain alert to the possibility."

- APNZ

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