NEW ZEALAND: Tier 1

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. These efforts included obtaining eight convictions for trafficking-related crimes, initiating the fourth prosecution under the trafficking statute, cooperating with foreign law enforcement to prosecute trafficking crimes, and providing services to victims identified in previous years. Although the government meets the minimum standards, it initiated only two trafficking investigations and did not identify or assist any sex trafficking victims. The government reported identifying few victims and prosecuting a low number of suspected traffickers.

PRIORITIZED RECOMMENDATIONS

Increase efforts to identify victims through proactive screening of vulnerable populations. • Expand law enforcement efforts to increasingly investigate domestic trafficking and child sex trafficking. • Amend the trafficking statute to explicitly remove sentencing provisions that allow fines in lieu of imprisonment for sex trafficking offenses. • Amend the trafficking statute to define the sex trafficking of children as not requiring the use of deception or coercion. • Increase resources for anti-trafficking law enforcement. • Update the national action plan to address current trafficking trends in the country, including domestic trafficking. • Provide trafficking training to judges, prosecutors, and labor inspectors. • Increase coordination with NGOs, social service providers, and other civil society stakeholders on anti-trafficking efforts. • Distribute materials to raise public awareness of all forms of human trafficking. • Provide anti-trafficking training to diplomatic personnel.

PROSECUTION

The government maintained law enforcement efforts. The Crimes Act of 1961, as amended, criminalized sex trafficking and labor trafficking. Section 98D (trafficking in persons) criminalized all forms of labor trafficking and some forms of sex trafficking and prescribed penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment, a fine not exceeding 500,000 New Zealand dollars (NZD) ($335,570), or both. Inconsistent with international law, 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; this inconsistency may have hampered the government’s ability to effectively investigate the sex trafficking of children. However, Section 98AA criminalized all forms of child sex trafficking under its “dealing in persons” provision and prescribed penalties of up 14 years’ imprisonment, which were sufficiently stringent and commensurate with the penalties imposed for rape. The government also utilized Sections 20 and 21 of the Prostitution Reform Act (PRA), which criminalized the facilitating, assisting, causing, or encouraging a child to provide commercial sex, in addition to receiving earnings from commercial sex acts provided by a child. The PRA prescribed a maximum penalty of seven years’ imprisonment for the sex trafficking of children.

During the reporting period, the government initiated two labor trafficking investigations, initiated five prosecutions (three for labor and two for sex trafficking), and obtained eight convictions (three for labor and five for sex trafficking); this was compared to three investigations, six prosecutions, and two convictions in the previous reporting period. Officials continued investigations of six cases of suspected labor exploitation during the reporting period. The government initiated its fourth prosecution under the trafficking statute in 2018, but did not obtain any convictions under this law. Courts convicted five individuals in three child sex trafficking cases under the PRA; their sentences ranged from nine months’ home detention to 10 years and three months’ imprisonment. Authorities continued to report that a lack of sufficient resources, as well as high evidentiary and procedural standards, resulted in prosecutors charging some suspected traffickers under different statutes, including non-criminal labor violations. For example, the labor inspectorate investigated forced labor complaints but was limited to working within the civil legal system. The immigration agency’s serious offences unit investigated trafficking cases but were limited to investigating only those cases in which immigration violations were also identified. The government did not report vigorously investigating perpetrators of domestic trafficking, including of those who exploit New Zealand children in sex trafficking. New Zealand Police required anti-trafficking training for all criminal investigators and included a trafficking and smuggling chapter in its police manual; the government did not report training prosecutors or judiciary officials. Police and immigration officials cooperated with authorities in Samoa and Fiji on two separate trafficking investigations; these efforts resulted in the arrest of one suspected trafficker by Fijian authorities in August 2018. The government did not report any investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of government employees complicit in trafficking offenses.

PROTECTION

The government maintained minimal victim protection efforts. The government continued to draft an operational framework to outline the process of victim identification, referral, and provision of victim services for government officials. During the reporting period, the government identified seven victims of labor trafficking, compared with two labor trafficking victims and one sex trafficking victim in the previous reporting period. Although six of the victims identified during the reporting period did not accept support services from New Zealand, the government continued to provide services for 19 victims of labor trafficking identified in previous years. In addition to training police, the government reported providing training for labor inspectors and immigration and customs officials on victim identification and referral procedures. Nonetheless, the conflation of trafficking, prostitution, and smuggling by some officials and social service providers may have left some victims unidentified and a lack of coordination between the government, and social service and health providers may have resulted in ineffective referral procedures. An ad-hoc task force comprising police, child services, and civil society representatives tasked with sharing information and responding to the needs of children exploited in prostitution did not operate during the reporting period. An NGO reported there was a lack of sufficient government coordination to provide assistance to child sex trafficking victims. Immigration New Zealand (INZ) met with a consultation group composed of four civil society organizations to further its anti-trafficking efforts; however, as in the previous year, this did not result in significant outcomes to investigate cases or protect victims, and officials reported insufficient resources hampered meaningful collaboration with NGOs.

The government did not allocate funding specifically dedicated to assisting trafficking victims. However, victims of trafficking were eligible to receive government-funded services, provided through arrangements with local community groups, and the government provided temporary housing, medical services, employment assistance, and other social 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; one victim and their family were granted visas during the reporting period. The government also provided legal alternatives to the removal of foreign victims to countries where they may face hardship or retribution. The law allowed victims to receive restitution in criminal cases and victims could also seek monetary damages through civil claims; courts ordered one convicted offender in a trafficking case to pay 1,580 NZD ($1,060) in restitution in 2018.

PREVENTION

The government maintained efforts to prevent trafficking. INZ chaired the government’s interagency working group on trafficking. During the reporting period, the government divided the position within INZ responsible for coordinating government efforts related to anti-trafficking, migrant smuggling, and regional cooperation into three portfolios, creating a new role focused solely on anti-trafficking efforts. The government continued a review and update of its 2009 anti-trafficking action plan, initially scheduled in 2017; in November 2018, the Minister of Immigration ordered an updated plan be completed by the end of 2019. The government did not report distributing materials raising awareness of sex or labor trafficking as defined by international standards. However, it continued to host forums and workshops with businesses, NGOs, and other civil society stakeholders to increase awareness and engage the private sector to combat trafficking in supply chains. The government, along with four other countries, launched a set of principles for governments to use as a framework for preventing and addressing forced labor in public and private sector supply chains. INZ and the labor inspectorate operated hotlines in which workers could make complaints; however, the government did not operate a trafficking-specific hotline. The government continued to distribute guides for employers recruiting Filipino workers and to send welcome emails with workers’ rights information to all approved residence, work, and student visa holders in 13 languages. The government commissioned research on exploitation of migrants in prostitution and of migrant workers during the reporting period.

Government regulations banned employers who breach employment standards from recruiting migrant workers for periods of six to 24 months and the employment agency published a list of all offending employers on its website. New Zealand law required individuals who provide immigration advice to hold a license issued by the government. Immigration officials and 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 did not make efforts to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts. The government did not provide anti-trafficking training to its diplomatic personnel.

TRAFFICKING PROFILE

As reported over the past five years, human traffickers exploit domestic and foreign victims in New Zealand. New Zealand girls and boys (often from minority communities) are exploited in sex trafficking. Young children and teenagers are recruited into prostitution by gang members, boyfriends, family members, or others. Some victims are coerced into prostitution through drug dependencies or threats by family members. Foreign men and women from Fiji, Samoa, China, India, the Philippines, and countries in Latin America are vulnerable to forced labor in New Zealand’s agricultural, dairy, construction, viticulture, food service, technology, 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 traffickers force migrant workers to work in job conditions different from those promised during recruitment, and victims often 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.

U.S. Department of State

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