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 obtaining two trafficking convictions, increasing training for law enforcement, developing a new written framework for victim services, and increasing efforts to prevent trafficking, including by enforcing new regulations to prevent employers who breach employment laws from recruiting migrant workers. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it did not provide sufficient resources to increase trafficking investigations and prosecutions, convict any offenders under the trafficking statute, or formally identify child sex trafficking victims, despite providing services to child victims in prostitution.

Amend the trafficking statute to explicitly remove the possibility of a fine alone as a sentence for trafficking crimes and to define the sex trafficking of children as not requiring the use of deception or coercion; increase resources for anti-trafficking law enforcement; increase efforts to identify victims through proactive screening of vulnerable populations, including women and children in prostitution, foreign workers, and illegal migrants; update the national action plan to address current trafficking trends in the country; provide trafficking training to judges and prosecutors; expand anti-trafficking awareness campaigns; and engage in efforts to reduce demand for forced labor, including in supply chains, and commercial sex.

The government maintained law enforcement efforts. The Crimes Act of 1961, as amended, criminalized sex and labor trafficking. Inconsistent with international law, the trafficking provision of the Crimes Act, section 98D, required a demonstration of deception or coercion to constitute a child sex trafficking offense, and therefore did not criminalize all forms of child sex trafficking. However, section 98AA of the Crimes Act criminalized all forms of child sex trafficking under its “dealing in persons” provision. Section 98D prescribed sentences of up to 20 years imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent penalties. While section 98D technically allowed for penalties resulting solely in a fine for sex trafficking of adults—which is not commensurate with penalties for other serious crimes, such as rape—the absence of recent trafficking convictions resulting solely in a fine, coupled with the Sentencing Act of 2002, indicated such penalties were not in fact permissible. Section 98AA also prescribed a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment for child sex trafficking, which was commensurate with the penalties imposed for rape.

During the reporting period, the government initiated three trafficking investigations, initiated prosecutions of six defendants, and obtained two convictions, compared to seven investigations, four prosecutions, and two convictions in the previous reporting period. The government pursued human trafficking charges against two defendants in one case involving forced labor, exploitation charges against one defendant, and prosecuted three defendants for child sex trafficking. The government convicted two restaurant owners on exploitation charges under the Immigration Act and sentenced them to 26 months imprisonment and eight months home detention, respectively, and ordered each to pay 7,200 New Zealand dollars ($5,120) in restitution. Authorities reported a lack of sufficient resources, as well as high evidentiary and procedural standards, resulted in prosecutors charging some suspected traffickers under different statutes, such as labor violations. The immigration department established a trafficking intelligence and prosecution unit. The government continued to train law enforcement officials on trafficking, and in 2018 included an anti-trafficking component within mandatory training for criminal investigators; it did not report training prosecutors or judiciary officials. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government officials complicit in trafficking offenses.

The government maintained victim protection efforts. It reported having standardized guidance to identify trafficking victims, but it identified only a small number of victims. The government completed a new operational framework to improve and guide the process of identification, referral, and provision of victim services for government officials. During the reporting period, the government identified two victims (compared with two in 2016) and one potential victim—two male victims of labor trafficking were formally identified and one child exploited in sex trafficking was provided services; however, the government did not identify the child as a victim of trafficking. The government provided services to victims identified in 2017 and continued to provide services for 18 victims of labor trafficking, compared to 37 victims assisted in 2016. The Ministry of Health issued written victim identification guidelines to medical providers throughout New Zealand in 2017. In addition to police, the government provided training for labor inspectors, immigration, and customs officials on victim identification and referral. Labor inspectors reported inspecting legal brothels to ensure working conditions complied with the law and conducting investigations and routine audits in work places that employed migrant workers. The government reported routinely providing assistance to child victims in prostitution, but did not formally identify any child victims of sex trafficking. Through arrangements with local community groups, the government provided temporary housing, food, clothing, and other services, as well as emergency grants in cases involving debt bondage. The law authorized the extension of temporary residence visas to foreign trafficking victims for up to 12 months, which also made them eligible for legal employment; the government issued such visas to labor trafficking victims identified during the reporting period. The government provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. There were no reports of victims penalized for unlawful acts committed as a result of being subjected to trafficking; however, some may have been as a result of inadequate screening. For example, reports indicated immigration officials focused on the visa status violations of some exploited migrant workers rather than identifying them as victims and referring them to services, though the government denied these reports. Victims could seek restitution through civil claims, although no such civil claims were filed in 2017.

The government increased efforts to prevent trafficking. Police, labor, and immigration officials led the government’s anti-trafficking efforts under an anti-trafficking coordinator. The government initiated a review of its 2009 anti-trafficking action plan in early 2018; the lack of an updated plan reportedly impeded governmental efforts throughout the reporting period. Immigration New Zealand met with consultation groups, including NGOs, businesses, and other stakeholders to further its anti-trafficking efforts; however, these meetings did not result in significant outcomes during the reporting period. The government introduced regulations in April 2017 that banned employers who breach employment standards from recruiting migrant workers for periods of six to 24 months and publicly published a list of all offending employers. Since implementing these regulations, the government placed approximately 100 businesses on the list.

The government continued to distribute guides for employers recruiting Filipino workers and send welcome emails with workers’ rights information to all approved residence, work, and student visa holders. In an attempt to reduce the demand for forced labor, the labour inspectorate established a unit to engage employers on increasing compliance with employment standards within their own supply chains, focusing on high-risk industries. The government also hosted forums with businesses, NGOs, and other civil society stakeholders to increase awareness and engage the private sector to combat trafficking in supply chains. The government conducted compliance tests of employment contracts used in work visa applications. The government did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts, which are decriminalized in New Zealand.

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 the Pacific islands, China, India, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Latin America are vulnerable to forced labor in New Zealand’s agricultural, dairy, construction, viticulture, food service, and hospitality sectors, and as domestic workers. Unregulated and unlicensed immigration brokers operating in New Zealand and source countries, particularly in India and the Philippines, assist victims of labor exploitation in New Zealand obtain visas. Some foreign workers are charged excessive recruitment fees and experience unjustified salary deductions, non- or under-payment 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 workers aboard foreign-flagged fishing vessels in New Zealand waters are vulnerable to forced labor. Foreign women from Asia and South America are at risk of sex trafficking. Some international students and temporary visa holders are vulnerable to forced labor or prostitution. New Zealand girls and boys (often from minority communities) are at risk of sex trafficking. Some children are recruited by other girls or compelled by family members into sex trafficking.

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future