New Zealand: Laws Against Human Trafficking Fail to Protect Victims or Punish Offenders
Sunday, August 31, 2014 10:35 PM

New Zealand has failed to effectively combat human trafficking due to "serious gaps" in the country's laws on trafficking in persons, slavery and labor exploitation, according to a new report by Justice Acts New Zealand (Justice Acts). The report, "Protecting the Vulnerable," found that these legal gaps made it difficult for police and prosecutors to investigate trafficking crimes, protect victims and convict offenders. No human trafficking cases have made it to court in New Zealand in the last four years, despite several ongoing investigations, leading to international criticism from the UN Human Rights Council and the 2014 US Trafficking in Persons Report
Most foreign victims of trafficking are simply "sent home," with no provision for their safety or support, and perpetrators are not adequately punished. According to the Justice Acts report, New Zealand's anti-trafficking laws are "inconsistent with New Zealand's international obligations," including those mandated by the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking Persons, Especially Women and Children. The report offers several recommendations, including proposed amendments to the country's Crime Bill. The report also identifies the need to review implementation of the Prostitution Reform Act to ensure that sex trafficking victims, particularly children and migrant sex workers, are protected from violence and exploitation.   
Compiled from: Sergel, Michael, NZ law fails to prosecute human traffickers, New Zealand News (August 25, 2014); Justice Acts New Zealand, Review: Law Failing to Stop Exploitation And Trafficking, Press Release, Scoop Politics (August 25, 2014).