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600 Slaves And Counting on New Zealand Soil

600 Slaves And Counting on New Zealand Soil

The 2014 Global Slavery Index has just been released, and buried within its pages is New Zealand’s growing issue of human exploitation and slavery. When taken in conjunction with the US State Department’s Trafficking in Persons Report 2014, New Zealand has now become both a source and destination country in the slavery network.

Was the arrests of two Indian nationals in Motueka on New Zealand’s first charges of Human Trafficking just the tip of the iceberg?

The 2014 Global Slavery Index tends to indicate the answer is yes. Very little New Zealand based research has been done on slavery within our shores. However, a current major study being done by a coalition of abolition organisations in conjunction with the University of Auckland will change this. If early interviews are anything to go by, this research may only reinforce if not enlarge the number further.

While New Zealand is but a speck on the map compared to modern slave giants such as Haiti, India, Pakistan and the Sudan, its mere existence in our back yard should appall every kiwi. Noticeably, New Zealand is also absent from the index’s list of governments that are taking the most action to end modern slavery. Most notable is that many of these countries have similarly low rates of slavery as we do, but have aggressively acted anyway. These countries include; the Netherlands, the United States, Ireland, Georgia and our next door neighbour Australia.

One of the five key initiatives the report recommends every country take to combat the issues of modern slavery is to ensure that criminal justice mechanisms are able to address modern forms of slavery. The current Organised Crime & Anti-Corruption Legislation Bill, which underwent its first reading two weeks ago in parliament, has the potential to do just that.


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