U.S. Department of State 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report - New Zealand

New Zealand (Tier 1)

New Zealand has a sizable number of children engaged in prostitution who may be victims of internal trafficking; it is a destination country for women from Thailand and other countries in Asia trafficked for the purpose of sexual exploitation. There are a significant number of foreign women in the country engaged, both legally and illegally, in the commercial sex trade. Some of these women may be trafficking victims. The majority of these women are from Thailand and Southeast Asia, but over the past year there have been anecdotal reports of women coming to New Zealand from Brazil and the Czech Republic. Children are trafficked within the country for commercial sexual exploitation. Estimates of international trafficking victims are modest; there have been reports of debt bondage and confiscation of documents among women in prostitution.

The Government of New Zealand fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. Law enforcement efforts were generally commensurate with the available information on the modest extent of trafficking in the country. The government continues to work on a national plan of action to combat trafficking in persons and is committed to take action to increase prevention and protection efforts among women and children in the legalized sex trade, some of whom may be trafficking victims. The government also provides substantial support to organizations working with vulnerable populations, including organizations that work with potential trafficking victims. However, law enforcement should be trained to better identify and refer trafficking victims. Efforts should also be made to measure the extent to which foreign women and children under the age of 18 may fall victim to trafficking for sexual exploitation.


The Government of New Zealand has laws against human smuggling and trafficking, which impose penalties of up to 20 years' imprisonment and substantial fines. New Zealand's laws also criminalize slavery and child commercial sexual exploitation. The 2003 Prostitution Reform Act legalized prostitution for those over the age of 18 and also decriminalized solicitation. Additional laws make it a crime to receive financial gain from an act involving children exploited in prostitution and prohibit sex tourism. The government reported four prosecutions and three convictions of three brothel operators and a client for employing children in prostitution under the Prostitution Reform Act. Another brothel owner is awaiting trial. There have been no convictions under New Zealand's anti-trafficking law, which requires movement across an international border. Instances of internal trafficking can be prosecuted under New Zealand's laws on forced labor, slavery, and other forms of abuse. New Zealand took steps in the reporting period to enhance the effectiveness of these laws in combating trafficking. The Police Department in Auckland – an area where there is believed to be a large number of children in prostitution – operates the country's only "Child Exploitation Team," which includes a section specifically aimed at children in prostitution.


The government provides short-term sanctuary, witness protection, access to medical services, and safe repatriation to trafficking victims. The government also supports a wide-range of NGOs that provide services to women in prostitution and some trafficking victims. The Human Rights Commission at one time operated a "safe house" program, which was set up to assist Thai women in prostitution, and resources are available to allow it to do so again should a number of trafficking victims be identified. Child victims are placed in foster care or in a child and protective unit operated by the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Services. There is strong coordination on anti-trafficking matters between NGOs and the government, and there were no reports of trafficking victims being arrested or detained during the reporting period.


The government acknowledged that trafficking is a problem and in February 2005 developed a National Plan of Action against Trafficking in Persons, naming the Department of Labor as the coordinator of this plan. The government also operates programs to reintegrate children out of prostitution through vocational training and educational opportunities. The government also actively participates in many regional and international efforts to prevent, monitor, and control trafficking, including participation in the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons, and Related Transnational Organized Crime. The government's foreign assistance agency, NZAID, provides substantial resources to source countries and international organizations for detection, prevention, and services for trafficking victims.


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