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US State Dept Human Trafficking Report Misleading

US State Dept report on trafficking in persons

A United States State Department report that makes references to trafficking of persons in New Zealand is creating a misleading impression, says Foreign Minister Phil Goff.

Mr Goff said that while the report acknowledged New Zealand fully complied with international standards for the elimination of trafficking, it created a misleading impression of children being trafficked for prostitution here.

“There is no evidence of children being trafficked into New Zealand for this purpose. The sad problem of child prostitution here appears to be almost entirely a home grown one,” Mr Goff said.

“New Zealand has taken extra measures to deal with both people trafficking and child prostitution. Under legislation I passed in 2002, trafficking in persons is now subject to severe penalties of up to 20 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $500,000 for those who organise it.

“Child prostitution has been defined as prostitution involving a person under the age of 18 of either gender, and since 2001 it has been a criminal offence to be the client of a child prostitute.

“The Prostitution Reform Act passed last year criminalised child prostitution. Under the Crimes Amendment Bill currently before Parliament, inducing a person under 18 to sell or give themselves for the purpose of sexual exploitation becomes a serious offence subject to 14 years’ imprisonment.

“In addition, the government is now working actively with NGOs and other groups to implement a National Plan of Action Against Sexual Exploitation of Children.

“It appears that researchers for the State Department have taken a report by the NZ organisation ECTPAT out of context, and failed to fully appreciate the extent of actions taken in New Zealand against trafficking and child exploitation.

“While New Zealand is placed in the same category as countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, France and Italy, the fact that we have been included at all in the report is regrettable. I have no doubt that New Zealand has taken even more extensive actions than the United States itself to deal with problems in this area,” Mr Goff said.

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