Stuff co.nz 21 June 2014
Investigations into human trafficking in New Zealand have found no concrete evidence it was happening, the immigration minister says.
The US State Department Trafficking in Persons 2014 Report, released today, said foreign men and women were subject to forced labour and sex trafficking in New Zealand, but the government had not prosecuted any trafficking cases in the last eight years.
The report criticised New Zealand’s lack of a comprehensive anti-trafficking law, and recommended New Zealand’s legal framework be expanded to prohibit and punishr all forms of human trafficking.
Immigration Minister Michael Woodhouse said New Zealand took a strong stance on trafficking, and did have stringent and comprehensive anti-trafficking laws, with penalties comparable to those for homicide or rape, reflecting the seriousness of the crime.
New legislation was “in the pipeline” to enable further action to be taken should evidence of trafficking emerge, Woodhouse said.
The report referred to forced labour aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels in New Zealand, “including through debt bondage, confiscation of passports, underpayment of wages, imposition of significant debts, poor living and working conditions, and physical and sexual abuse.”