Last Updated: Thursday, 24 July 2014, 07:02 GMT

Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - New Zealand

Publisher United States Department of State
Publication Date 14 June 2010
Cite as United States Department of State, Trafficking in Persons Report 2010 - New Zealand, 14 June 2010, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4c1883d4c.html [accessed 24 July 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 source country for underage girls subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced prostitution, and a destination country for foreign men and women in forced labor. In the past New Zealand had reportedly been a destination country for women from Hong Kong, Thailand, Taiwan, China, other Asian countries, and Eastern Europe trafficked into forced prostitution, but no new information about such cases was reported in the past year. Of all persons in the legal sex industry, approximately 1.3 percent are children, some of whom are victims of sex trafficking. Some of these girls under 18 years old engage in prostitution occasionally on the street without the obvious control of a third party. Child trafficking victims, however, are found engaging in prostitution illegally in brothels, and other teenage girls who engage in prostitution on the street are closely controlled by local gangs. Unskilled Asians and Pacific Islanders migrate to New Zealand voluntarily to work legally or illegally in the agricultural sector, and women from the Philippines migrate legally to work as nurses. Some of these workers report that manpower agencies placed them in positions of involuntary servitude or debt bondage by charging them excessive and escalating recruiting fees, imposing unjustified salary deductions on them, restricting their travel by confiscating their passports, and significantly altering contracts or working conditions without their permission. Relative to the population of New Zealand, the estimated number of trafficking victims is modest, although no research has been conducted to determine the full extent of the trafficking problem in New Zealand.

The Government of New Zealand fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to fund and participate in international anti-trafficking initiatives, and introduced a national Plan of Action. New Zealand offers an extensive network of protective services to both internal and transnational trafficking victims, regardless of whether they are recognized as trafficking victims. It is possible, however, that citizens and foreigners in New Zealand exploited in forced labor and the legal or illegal commercial sex trade have not been identified by the government as trafficking victims.

Recommendations for New Zealand: Develop and implement a visible anti-trafficking awareness campaign directed at clients of the legal and illegal sex trades; identify child trafficking victims engaged in commercial sexual activity; continue to train law enforcement and labor officials to proactively identify trafficking victims in other vulnerable populations such as adults in prostitution and foreign laborers; and investigate and prosecute employment recruiting agencies or employers who subject foreign workers to positions of involuntary servitude or debt bondage.

Prosecution

The Government of New Zealand made little discernible progress in its anti-trafficking law enforcement efforts during the past year. New Zealand does not have a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and authorities did not arrest or prosecute any trafficking offenders during the past year. Part 5 and various amendments of the Crimes Act of 1961 prohibit transnational sex and labor trafficking. Laws against sexual slavery, the receipt of financial gain from exploiting children in prostitution, and labor exploitation prohibit forms of internal trafficking. Such crimes are not specifically included within the anti-trafficking provisions of the Crimes Act and therefore cases of internal trafficking are not recognized by the government as trafficking crimes. Fraudulent employment and recruiting practices are prohibited under the Crimes Act of 1961 and the Wages Protection Act of 1983. New Zealand has never prosecuted trafficking offenders under these laws. Sufficiently stringent penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment and/or a fine of $250,000 under the above statutes are commensurate with those prescribed for other serious crimes. The government released no information about the progress or conclusion during the year of trafficking-related arrests and prosecutions opened during previous years. During the reporting period, the government continued prosecution of an accused sex trafficking offender who allegedly subjected two underage girls to prostitution in a brothel. One girl was a New Zealand citizen and one was a foreign exchange student. Since 2007, all Immigration Compliance Officers received training in identifying trafficking indicators in sectors considered high risk for the exploitation or trafficking of foreigners. Police constables, health and safety inspectors, and labor inspectors received training on how to identify exploitative offenses involving citizens and residents. In accordance with its Plan of Action, the government began developing programs to train front-line staff from the Department of Labor (DOL), Customs, and the New Zealand Police to detect trafficking activity in the course of their routine duties involving both citizens and foreign nationals. The police also recently began to identify and train specialized interviewers for both trafficking victims and offenders. The government provided training in trafficking indicators to all new detectives in the Criminal Investigation Branch, and sent officers to Australia for training from trafficking specialists in the Australian Federal Police. Officials made two brothel compliance inspections during the past year, a significant decrease from the 29 compliance inspections it conducted in 2008. The government significantly decreased its efforts to monitor the agricultural sector for labor trafficking offenses. In 2008, it conducted 264 agricultural labor compliance checks, but reported conducting only 46 compliance visits and 90 educational visits during this reporting period.

Protection

The Government of New Zealand continued to provide strong support and social services for victims of all crimes through the New Zealand Council of Victim Support Groups. The government reports it did not assist any trafficking victims during the year, even though it provided support services for children involved in commercial sexual exploitation. No victims of trafficking were identified by the government during the reporting period, despite ongoing reports of children exploited in the commercial sex trade and foreign workers subjected to involuntary servitude and debt bondage. Under the Victim's Rights Act of 2002, police attend to victims' immediate welfare needs, such as food and shelter. There are currently no shelters specifically dedicated to trafficking victims. Youth and Cultural Development in Christchurch ran the "Street Youth Work Project" for girls and boys under 18 years of age at risk of or already engaging in commercial sex. The law allows foreign victims temporary legal residence and relief from prosecution for immigration offenses. In accordance with the national Plan of Action, the DOL began formulating a policy to regularize a foreign trafficking victim's immigration status to allow that person to lawfully remain in New Zealand long-term and continue to access a wide range of support services. No identified victims were jailed, fined, or deported. It is possible, however, that foreigners were deported instead of being investigated as possible trafficking victims because police and immigration officials do not routinely employ formal procedures for identifying trafficking victims among vulnerable populations such as illegal migrants and women engaging in prostitution. New Zealand contributed personnel and a significant amount of funding to victim protection programs in the Mekong Sub-Region and the Pacific Island region.

Prevention

The Government of New Zealand continued making efforts to prevent the transnational trafficking of foreigners into New Zealand, and made few discernible efforts to prevent internal trafficking. During the year, it did not run campaigns in New Zealand to raise public awareness of trafficking risks, nor did it take steps to reduce demand for commercial sex acts in the decriminalized commercial sex industry. In July 2009 the New Zealand government released its Plan of Action to Prevent People Trafficking, developed in consultation with NGOs and relevant government agencies. The DOL, which coordinates anti-trafficking activity on behalf of the Inter-Agency Working Group, launched an intranet page dedicated to raising trafficking awareness among its frontline labor inspectors. It also began preparing educational materials to be given to airlines, NGOs, and other victim service providers. To date, the government's policies on trafficking and prostitution have failed to give adequate priority to the problems of adult and child sex trafficking. The government made significant efforts to reduce the participation of its nationals in sex tourism. In 2009, the government established the Online Child Exploitation Across New Zealand (OCEANZ) program. OCEANZ team members, working with international partner organizations, conducted investigations of potential child sex tourists when online activity uncovered links between online exploitation of children and child sex tourism. New Zealand remained active in international efforts to monitor and prevent trafficking. Immigration New Zealand provided the publication entitled "Information for Migrant Workers from the Philippines - A Guide to Work and Work Rights in New Zealand" to all work visa applicants in the Philippines. Its foreign assistance agency provided substantial funding to foreign countries and international organizations to build countries' anti-trafficking capacity, to prevent trafficking, and to provide services to victims. The government provided anti-trafficking training to military personnel prior to their deployment abroad on international peacekeeping missions. There were no reports of New Zealand peacekeeping personnel involved in trafficking or exploiting trafficking victims during the year.

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