The Government of New Zealand fully meets the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government continued to demonstrate serious and sustained efforts during the reporting period; therefore, New Zealand remained on Tier 1. The government demonstrated serious and sustained efforts by convicting a trafficker under its human trafficking statute for the first time, training police and labor inspectors on victim identification, and providing services to trafficking victims and potential victims. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not consistently identify victims in vulnerable sectors, provide shelter services designed specifically for trafficking victims, or adequately conduct campaigns to raise general awareness of human trafficking.
Increase resources for robust victim protection services and establish procedures to refer all trafficking victims, including boys and men, to such services; significantly increase efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses and sentence traffickers to penalties commensurate with the seriousness of the crime; increase efforts to identify victims through proactive screening of vulnerable populations, including women and children in prostitution, foreign workers, and illegal migrants; amend the law to define the sex trafficking of children as not requiring the use of force, fraud, or coercion and to remove the possibility of a fine alone as a sentence; provide human trafficking training to judges and prosecutors; update the national action plan to address current trafficking trends in the country; expand anti-trafficking awareness campaigns; and engage in efforts to reduce demand of forced labor, including in supply chains, and sexual commercial exploitation, especially of children and foreign women.
The government increased law enforcement efforts. The Crime Act of 1961, as amended by the Omnibus Crime Bill, criminalizes most forms of human trafficking. Under the Crime Act, the human trafficking provision includes the reception, recruitment, transport, transfer, concealment or harboring of a person for the purpose of exploitation, defined as the deception or coercion causing a person to be involved in prostitution or other sexual services, slavery and practices similar to slavery, servitude, forced labor or other forced services, or the removal of organs. It requires elements of deception or coercion in its provision criminalizing sex trafficking of a child, which is inconsistent with international law. The law prescribes sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment, a fine not exceeding $500,000, or both; these penalties are sufficiently stringent. By allowing for a fine in lieu of imprisonment, the prescribed punishment is not commensurate with those for other serious crime, such as rape. The government initiated seven investigations and began prosecutions of four defendants in 2016. The government convicted a trafficker under the human trafficking provision of the Crime Act for the first time. The court sentenced the trafficker to nine years and six months imprisonment and ordered the offender to pay $28,167 in restitution for exploiting 15 migrant workers in forced labor; a second offender pleaded guilty to immigration violations and was sentenced to one year of home detention and ordered to pay $55,000 in restitution. The government reported cooperating with foreign governments to investigate trafficking crimes. The government continued to train police on human trafficking, victim identification, and indicators of trafficking, but it did not report training prosecutors or judiciary officials. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in human trafficking offenses.
The government maintained moderate victim protection efforts. It reported having standardized guidance to identify trafficking victims, but it identified only a small number of victims. The government reported using a certification process by which police formally certify a person as a suspected trafficking victim based on reasonable suspicion, enabling potential victims to access a range of services. During the reporting period, the government made two new certifications of labor trafficking victims, (34 in 2015) and provided services such as shelter referrals and obtaining employment for 37 victims of labor trafficking, in addition to 11 potential victims, compared to 34 victims assisted in 2015. The government reported referring women and child victims of crime to services; on a case-by-case basis the government provided assistance, such as food and shelter, to victims of crimes and referred them to NGOs or other service providers. The government did not operate any shelters specifically for trafficking victims. The law authorizes the extension of temporary residency to foreign trafficking victims for up to 12 months and makes them eligible for a variety of government-provided or -funded services while their cases are under investigation; the government provided temporary work visas for all foreign victims identified in 2016. Immigration officials began developing a comprehensive framework to guide the process of identification, referral, and provision of services of victims. In addition to police, the government provided training for labor inspectors on victim identification as well as referral of victims to services. Labor inspectors reported inspecting legal brothels to ensure working conditions were in compliance with the law, but this did not result in the identification of any sex trafficking victims. Labor inspectors reported conducting routine audits in work places that employ migrant workers; they identified breaches of labor standards, but these did not result in investigations or prosecutions of forced or coerced labor exploitation. There were no reports of victims being detained, fined, or jailed for unlawful acts committed as trafficking victims; however, some may have been as a result of inadequate government efforts to identify victims. The government reported providing legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims of crime to countries where they may face hardship or retribution, but no trafficking victims received this benefit in 2016. Victims could seek restitution through civil claims; although no such civil claims were filed in 2016, some labor exploitation cases resulted in restitution for labor violations.
The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. Police, labor, and immigration officials led the government’s anti-trafficking efforts under an anti-trafficking coordinator. During the reporting period, Immigration New Zealand established a consultation group including NGOs and other stakeholders to further its anti-trafficking efforts. The government continued to implement the Fisheries Foreign Charter Vessels Amendment, which came into effect May 1, 2016, and requires all foreign charter vessels fishing in New Zealand waters to operate as New Zealand-flagged vessels and abide by its health and labor laws. Under the immigration act, the government convicted an employer and the employer’s company, separately, for failing to adequately compensate migrants working excessive hours; the employer and company were collectively fined a total of $15,000 and ordered to pay $5,000 to the victims.
The government continued to collaborate with the Philippines as part of a bilateral agreement to reduce the vulnerability of Filipino migrant workers to exploitation in New Zealand. Immigration officials issued guidance for employing Filipino workers including legal obligations under both New Zealand and Philippine law, and requirements for the licensing of recruitment agents. The government continued to send welcome emails with workers’ rights information to all approved residence, work, and student visa holders and issued guides for migrant dairy farm workers and their employers on workers’ rights, employers’ responsibilities, and support services. In an attempt to reduce the demand for forced labor, the government conducted compliance tests of employment contracts used in work visa applications and issued media statements about labor compliance audit results and prosecutions of labor exploitation cases. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts; New Zealand decriminalized commercial sex in 2003 under the Prostitution Reform Act. The government required diplomatic personnel to sign a code of conduct requiring they comply with all New Zealand laws, but it did not report providing them with anti-trafficking training. The government continued to cooperate with foreign governments to identify child sex tourists in New Zealand and to prioritize the prevention of child sex tourism abroad by its residents, although these efforts did not result in any investigations or prosecutions.
As reported over the past five years, New Zealand is a destination country for foreign men and women subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking and a source country for children subjected to sex trafficking within the country. Foreign men and women from China, India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, countries in the Pacific and Latin America, and South Africa, are vulnerable to forced labor in New Zealand’s agricultural, construction, viticulture, food service, and hospitality sectors, and as domestic workers. Unregulated immigration brokers operating in India and the Philippines reportedly assisted some victims of labor exploitation in New Zealand obtain visas. Some foreign workers are charged excessive recruitment fees and experience unjustified salary deductions, non- or underpayment of wages, excessively long working hours, restrictions on their movement, passport retention, and contract alteration. Some migrant workers are forced to work in job conditions different from those promised during recruitment but do not file complaints due to fear of losing their temporary visas. Foreign men aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels in New Zealand waters are vulnerable to forced labor. Foreign women from Asia are at risk of sex trafficking. Some international students and temporary visa holders are vulnerable to forced labor or prostitution. A small number of Pacific island and New Zealand (often of Maori descent) girls and boys are at risk of sex trafficking. Some children are recruited by other girls or compelled by family members into sex trafficking.