WelCom July 2017: Dr Rebecca Miller, Programme Manager for People Smuggling and Trafficking in Persons, Immigration New Zealand, spoke at a recent evening meeting with members of ANZRATH in Wellington. She described the extent of labour exploitation in New Zealand and the intimidation and coercion that often accompany this.
ANZRATH is a group of Religious and friends who work against human trafficking and exploitation.
Dr Miller said immigration will be a significant issue in our coming General Election, and advised groups like ANZRATH, that getting the word out in New Zealand is a significant role. Many people still think trafficking and exploitation don’t happen in our country. ‘Don’t underestimate the power of educating ourselves and building awareness more widely in New Zealand,’ Dr Millar said.
- Until 2009, the New Zealand Government position on trafficking in this country was largely one of denial.
- Trafficking is part of a continuum of exploitation, for example, people experiencing substandard conditions in labour exploitation compared with people in circumstances of human trafficking. This involves manipulation through forms of coercion or deception resulting in undermining a victim’s personal freedom and ability to make choices.
- Most trafficking and exploitation cases detected have involved migrants from the Asia-Pacific region travelling to New Zealand willingly to work and have a better life.
- There is a strong trend in which migrants are deceived by a promised pathway to residency. There are numerous cases of migrants being exploited within their own ethnic communities. Deception, coercion and intimidation are achieved through debt bondage, withholding passports, intimidation or manipulation of immigration status. The offending community can be very threatening.
- Some migrants are prepared to ‘do anything’ on the promise of residency, citizenship or the promise of a new life for their families.
- Victims often fear coming forward and speaking out because it may worsen the intimidation.
- Initially, Immigration NZ worked more closely with NGO’s and faith-based groups. Now, the private sector is more engaged. (See Transparency International Survey June 2017.)
ANZRATH will host a public meeting about anti-trafficking and exploitation in Aotearoa New Zealand on Monday 25 September, 7.30pm, at the Anglican Church Annex, corner of Main Rd and Lyndhurst St, Tawa, with guest speakers Dr Rebecca Miller and Peter Devoy from Immigration NZ. We encourage you to come to this meeting.
Sr Anne Powell rc