Last Updated: Friday, 29 August 2014, 14:18 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - New Zealand

Publisher United States Department of State
Author Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons
Publication Date 4 June 2008
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2008 - New Zealand, 4 June 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/484f9a30c.html [accessed 30 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

NEW ZEALAND (Tier 1)

New Zealand is a destination country for women from Malaysia, Hong Kong, the People's Republic of China, and other countries in Asia trafficked for the purpose of commercial sexual exploitation. Among foreign women in New Zealand's commercial sex trade, some may be trafficking victims, though estimates of international trafficking victims are modest. Commercial sexual exploitation of minors occurs within the country on a limited basis and there have been only a few instances where authorities suspect that minors in prostitution have been trafficked by third parties. New Zealand authorities are investigating allegations that some Asian and Pacific Islanders who migrate willingly to work in the agricultural sector and women from the Philippines who migrate to work as nurses are charged excessive recruiting fees by manpower agencies, and experience unjustified salary deductions and occasional contract fraud, actions that make them vulnerable to involuntary servitude or debt bondage.

The Government of New Zealand fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the year, police increased investigations by raiding several red light areas and massage parlors suspected of exploiting migrants illegally participating in the legal commercial sex trade and minors. However, sentences handed down to those convicted of exploiting minors in commercial sex remained relatively light, including home detention in one case.

Recommendations for New Zealand: Implement and support a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at clients of the sex trade; continue conducting efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims in the legalized prostitution sector; institute a formal procedure to identify victims of trafficking among vulnerable groups such as foreign women arrested for prostitution or migrant laborers; and continue efforts to investigate and prosecute citizens engaged in child sex tourism.

Prosecution

The Government of New Zealand improved law enforcement action against trafficking crimes during the past year. New Zealand prohibits sex trafficking and labor trafficking through Part 5 of the 1961 Crimes Act. The 2003 Prostitution Reform Act (PRA) legalized prostitution for those over the age of 18 and also decriminalized solicitation. Other statutes criminalize receiving financial gain from an act involving children exploited in prostitution and prohibit child sex tourism. Penalties prescribed for trafficking are sufficiently stringent, and penalties for trafficking for commercial sexual exploitation that range up to 20 years' imprisonment, are commensurate with those for rape. While there have been no prosecutions under New Zealand's anti-trafficking law, which requires movement across an international border, internal trafficking can be prosecuted under New Zealand's laws on forced labor, slavery, other forms of abuse, and the PRA. The government has prosecuted and convicted individuals under the PRA for exploiting children in commercial sexual exploitation. Of the 94 prosecutions for crimes involving commercial sexual exploitation of minors since the PRA became effective in 2004, 31 of those prosecutions occurred in 2007, resulting in 25 convictions. Of the 25 convictions, five offenders received jail sentences, 12 offenders received community service, two offenders received probation, three were fined, and three cases were acquitted. In February 2008, a defendant found guilty of exploiting a 14- and 16-year-old in his brothel was sentenced to one year of home detention. In March 2008, a man was found guilty of seven charges under the PRA, including conducting "training sessions" for three minors in his brothel, and was sentenced to 27 months' imprisonment.

During the reporting period, police increased investigative activities directed at finding foreign nationals and underage youth in prostitution, including raids in several red light areas and massage parlors suspected of sexually exploiting minors. In January 2008, police conducted a sweep in the red light district of Auckland and found 16 underage persons suspected of engaging in commercial sexual activity. According to police, some minors were living in gang homes and controlled by pimps who exchanged sex for accommodation, food, and drugs. Charges in this case are pending.

In 2007, the Department of Labor prosecuted five persons for helping or enticing illegal workers to stay in New Zealand for material gain in violation of the Immigration Act. In one case, a Vietnamese national in New Zealand helped several workers jump ship from a Korean fishing vessel on which they were exploited and trafficked them to another Vietnamese national who exploited the workers in New Zealand's agriculture industry. The Vietnamese nationals were sentenced to 27 months' incarceration and 21 months' home detention, respectively. There is no evidence of New Zealand government officials' complicity in trafficking in New Zealand.

Protection

The Government of New Zealand funds an extensive network of victim support and social services for victims of crimes, to include victims of trafficking. No victims of trafficking were identified by the government during the reporting period. Temporary permits can be provided to foreign victims of trafficking in individual cases. The government provides several support services for minors involved in or at risk of commercial sexual exploitation. In an effort to deter potential trafficking of migrant workers, the government in 2007 initiated a Recognized Seasonal Employer (RSE) program. It routinely conducts compliance visits to employers under the RSE to review agreements and fees, and to check for signs of impropriety and possible trafficking. The Department of Labor is currently investigating a complaint involving Asian nurses. There were no reports of trafficked victims who were jailed, fined, or deported for unlawful acts committed as a result of being trafficked. According to the Department of Labor, the Vietnamese ship jumpers remain in New Zealand and have assisted with the investigations and prosecutions as witnesses. New Zealand continues to fund victim protection programs in key trafficking Southeast Asian source countries of the Mekong Sub-Region.

Prevention

The Government of New Zealand continued efforts to prevent incidents of trafficking in persons over the year. There were no government-run information or education campaigns targeting transnational trafficking, underage prostitution, or exploitation of migrant workers during the reporting period. However, the government remained active in several regional and international efforts to prevent, monitor, and control trafficking. The government's foreign assistance agency, NZAID, continued to provide substantial funding to source countries and international organizations for capacity building, prevention, and services for victims of trafficking. The New Zealand government highlighted its extra-territorial legislation on child sex tourism on its travel webpage during the reporting period and punished child sex tourism committed by New Zealand residents in other countries; one person was convicted in 2007 and sentenced to a term of 820 days imprisonment. Prior to deployment for international peacekeeping missions New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) personnel received antitrafficking training. There were no visible measures undertaken by the government to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts in the legalized adult commercial sex industry in New Zealand.

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