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NZ: Victims of trafficking 'need to seek help'

Publish Date: 07 Sep 2009
Source: The Dominion Post
By: Stacey Wood

A high-profile Auckland lawyer says human trafficking is happening in New Zealand, but the Labour Department says it can do little unless victims come forward.

Jeremy Bioletti, who represented two clients he says were brought to New Zealand from Ukraine to work as prostitutes, said police should have protected them instead of prosecuting them.

His first client endured three jury trials with no convictions after she was found to be in possession of a false passport.

She had been accompanied to New Zealand by a "minder" and had been put to work as a prostitute before she was arrested.

"She came to me after depositions in her first trial because she'd been advised to plead guilty. We felt that as a victim of trafficking she shouldn't have been prosecuted, so that's how we defended her."

After a district court judge discharged her, Crown prosecutors applied for a judicial review and the case was brought back to court.

Two hung juries later, the woman was again discharged. Mr Bioletti said she had now escaped her "owner" and was trying to rebuild her life in Auckland.

"Since her case was finished ... there's been two other cases prosecuted by the Immigration Department. The woman I'm now acting for was trafficked into New Zealand by the same organisation, based in Kiev."

Mr Bioletti said police and immigration officials were missing the signs of human trafficking because they were too focused on security. "I think ... that because of September 11, border security and passport concerns eclipsed those of trafficking and of people being exploited."

If his client is deported to the Ukraine, Mr Bioletti fears she will fall back into the hands of the men who sent her here to begin with.

"We've signed up to an international protocol to protect these women and children from trafficking, so we are obliged to do more and as a fortunate country we should be doing more."

Labour Department immigration manager Steve Watson said it was difficult to help the victims of human trafficking unless they came forward.

"We need evidence, and we'll follow up on some of the things Jeremy's raised but he's speaking on behalf of someone else who might not come forward. We haven't found any substantiated evidence of trafficking."

Copyright © 2009 Fairfax New Zealand Limited


Publish Date: 07 Sep 2009
Source: Radio New Zealand 

Brothel workers victims of human trafficking - lawyer


Two Ukrainian women forced to work in Auckland brothels are victims of human trafficking, a criminal lawyer says.

Jeremy Bioletti says he has defended one woman who was brought to New Zealand to work as a prostitute by a gang in Ukraine.

Mr Bioletti says "you'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind" not to see that it was human trafficking.
Mr Bioletti says the brothel owner took the woman's passport and the 23-year-old was forced to work to pay off a $10,000 debt.

Officials treated her case as passport fraud, but Mr Bioletti says "you'd have to be deaf, dumb and blind" not to see that it was human trafficking.

Last week, Department of Labour immigration manager Steve Watson said there are no confirmed or suspected cases of human trafficking in New Zealand.

Mr Bioletti says he is defending another woman brought into the country by the Ukraine gang.

An organisation that works with sex workers says human trafficking is a reality in New Zealand.

The confidential support service, Street Reach New Zealand, says although human trafficking is hard to uncover, New Zealanders would be naive to think it is not happening here.

Spokesperson Debbie Baker says sex trafficking has become even harder to unearth since prostitution was decriminalised in 2003.

The Depatment of Labour says people with evidence of human trafficking need to contact police.