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HRC welcomes human trafficking conviction

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 15/09/2016

New Zealand's first human trafficking conviction serves as a strong reminder that exploiting migrant workers will not go unpunished, the Human Rights Commission says.

Feroz Ali, 46, was found guilty in the High Court at Auckland on Thursday of 15 charges of people trafficking and of other counts of helping people illegally get into or stay in the country.

During the trial, prosecutors said the workers were promised pay of $17 an hour by a company run by Ali's wife and charged total up-front fees of more than FJ$3000.

But when they arrived in Tauranga, they were given visitors' visas, left to sleep on the floor of a garage and at times worked weeks without pay in orchards.

Equal Employment Commissioner Dr Jackie Blue says the conviction is "monumental" for victims of human trafficking.

"It is a reminder to New Zealanders that we are not immune to human rights issues, such as human trafficking, and to businesses to ensure they are not party to these sorts of crimes," she said..

"Millions of people around the world are exploited by human traffickers. It's a global human rights issue and we would be naive to believe it doesn't happen in New Zealand."

Dr Blue said migrant workers were crucial to the economy and had the same rights as all workers in New Zealand.

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