AUSTRALIA’S POLICIES AND TRACK RECORD IN PREVENTION AND PROSECUTION OF HUMAN TRAFFICKING
Despite enacting two pieces of legislation in 2005, Australia’s track record in prevention, detection and prosecution of human trafficking has been abysmal. Minimal funds have been provided to police and immigration agencies to research the extent of the problem. The press has really been the only effective monitor of the situation of trafficking and subsequent enslavement of immigrants brought into the country under sponsoring arrangements, work or tourist visas. Industries targeted are not just the sex industry, but mining, construction, beauty salons and transport. Immigrants are bonded through loan and visa arrangements and subsequent bullying, often entrapped by virtue of lack of knowledge of the law and even the language, forced to work at substandard wage rates and endure substandard conditions. Often the intention to work is disguised so that the visas issued are for holiday purposes only with no subsequent policing by any regulatory agency. This paper discusses the history of the problem in Australia, the initial legislative response and the subsequent failure of that approach. A solution is suggested which involves the government recognising that human trafficking is increasing, that it is a global phenomenon to which Australia as a labour starved country could be contributing as a global destination that is not policing or prosecuting effectively, and that the net result is the Australian government is cooperating with a slave trade by committing insufficient resources to the problem.
The 1927 Slavery Convention defines slavery as “the status or condition of a person over whom any or all of the powers attaching to the right of ownership are exercised”. The UN Trafficking Protocol of 2003 defines trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person for the purposes of exploitation. Exploitation includes, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.
There are important distinctions between people smuggling, and trafficking, with the former involving the illegal migration of people across borders. Although trafficking involves movement of people it does not necessarily occur across national borders and must involve exploitation of the victim and, at least where the victims are adults, an element of force, deception or abuse of power. It is hard to distinguish a difference between slavery and trafficking. The latter appears to be the modern day equivalent of slavery with the exception that there is legislation in force in advanced nations to reverse the enslavement. However with estimates that the dollar value to those exploiting laws in different countries is in the order of $31billion, it is obvious that a concerted international legislative effort is needed to halt the trade. This paper by examining the situation in Australia, highlights the difficulties that a single nation state faces when trying to eradicate or even minimise a gross human crime, the simple facts of which are summarised in the referenced endnote. [i]
Legislation enacted in Australia
In 2000 the Australian Institute of Criminology published a major report on human trafficking  after which the Australian Federal Police and the Federal Attorney-General initiated studies of the extent of the trade in Australia . Due to studies showing the link between enforced prostitution and trafficking,  the Australian Government, in 2003, committed $20 million to address human trafficking. This resulted in new legislation bringing new federal offences into force in August 2005 (Criminal Code Amendment (Trafficking in Persons Offences) Act 2005). Shortly after in September 2005 Australia ratified the United Nations (UN) protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in persons, which supplements the UN convention against transnational organised crime.
History of prosecutions
Limited or no detection of offenders characterise human trafficking whether in Australia or elsewhere. Putt (2007) points out that illicit, underground activities may be hard to detect or hard to disrupt due to corruption and the risks associated with tackling organised crime. With human trafficking, perpetrators may be located in a range of countries depending on the route and method of trafficking. This creates challenges in obtaining evidence to prove criminal offences, especially where it has to be demonstrated that exploitation has occurred after immigration, whether legal or illegal. Although victims may be aware of the type of work that they are going to engage in, the conditions of employment and the debt that requires repayment may not have been agreed to. These factors impinge on the likelihood of the successful apprehension and prosecution of offenders, with the number of identified traffickers being even lower than numbers for identified victims. The reported case law is still very limited, largely because criminal offences relating to sexual servitude and slavery were only introduced in 1999 with the Criminal Code Amendment (Slavery and Sexual Servitude) Act 1999 (Cth) followed by the Criminal Code Amendment (Trafficking in Persons Offences) Act 2005 (Cth).
Australia prohibits sex and labor trafficking and trafficking-related offenses through Divisions 270 and 271 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code, which prescribe maximum penalties from 12 to 25 years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $152,000. These penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those prescribed for other serious offenses, such as rape. The Migration (Employer Sanctions Amendment) Act of 2007 prohibits exploiting migrant employees through forced labour, sexual servitude, or slavery, and prescribes penalties of up to five years’ imprisonment or various fines that are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with penalties prescribed for other serious crimes.
Australian official statistics reveal that following this 2005 Act that of a total of 117 criminal investigations only a small number resulted in successful convictions of traffickers (see Table 1). It should be noted that due to the topic no longer being the flavour of the month that funding for research and follow up is limited, and therefore no statistics can be reliably reported post 2009. This situation would be rectified by adopting the solutions recommended in the conclusion to this paper.
Table Table 1: Official human trafficking statistics, Australia, January 2004 – September 2006
Number of individuals
Victim support program
a: 44 have been issued with criminal justice stay visas
b: at the time of writing three convictions were under appeal
Source: Australian Federal Police
The Asian region is a primary source for persons who are trafficked around the world, with Australia among the target destinations. The southeast Asian region has seen a high level of predominantly intra-regional migration since the 1980s. These high levels of people movement have been driven by various socioeconomic and political push and pull factors operating throughout the region. The southeast Asian region is known to be a significant source of trafficked persons and is both an origin and destination region. Intra-regional trafficking is high, with Thailand ranked highly as an origin, transit and destination country. Other countries rank highly as places of origin, with most trafficking being to other Asian countries, although trafficked persons have been detected in southern Africa, Europe and the Middle East (UNODC 2009), as well as in Australia. Of the 113 trafficked persons identified in Australia as of December 2008, over two-thirds (n=75) originated from a southeast Asian countries. These trafficked persons were primarily women from Thailand, although others also originated from Indonesia, Singapore and the Philippines.
TIP (US Department of Justice, 2011) reports that the track record in Australia is as follows,
“The Government of Australia fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the year, the government prosecuted and convicted five trafficking offenders. Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigators in the Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams (TSETT) specialized in investigating trafficking offenses as well as child sex tourism and the online sexual exploitation of children. The government reported identifying and assisting 31 suspected victims of trafficking, a notable decrease from 57 suspected victims identified during the previous reporting period. The Australian government’s support program offered to foreign victims during the year included an option for long-term residence and care; authorities granted Permanent Witness Protection Visas to 20 such victims and nine of their family members, which allowed them to remain in Australia permanently. Authorities also continued a long-term trafficking research project that resulted in the publication of a number of papers on the trafficking situation in Australia. The government published discussion papers on the criminal justice response to trafficking and forced marriage, and sustained partnerships with NGOs in order to evaluate objectively its own anti-trafficking activities in these areas”.
While there were increased concerns and reports regarding forced labour in Australia, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) reported 38 investigations related to human trafficking during the year, 70 percent of which were for forced prostitution. Five sex trafficking offenders were convicted of trafficking-related offenses in Divisions 270 of the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act of 1995, and sentenced to between two and 12 years’ imprisonment; one of these convictions is currently under appeal. There were seven additional trafficking-related matters before Australian courts at the end of the reporting period involving eight defendants. Three of these cases were appeals of previous convictions and one is an ongoing prosecution for labor trafficking. During the year, the government did not convict any offenders of labor trafficking. To date, there have only been three prosecutions of slavery outside the sex industry. Remedies for many labor trafficking cases were achieved through industrial or civil mechanisms, but authorities failed to file criminal prosecutions in these cases. The government has never identified or prosecuted a trafficking offense committed against an Australian citizen or resident and occurring within the country. AFP investigators in the Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams specialized in investigating trafficking offenses as well as child sex tourism and the online sexual exploitation of children. Many front-line agencies, including state and territory police, and in some jurisdictions, labour inspectors and unions, do not have adequate awareness of the relevance of the federal anti-trafficking response to their daily work.
However, there was widespread concern expressed by civil society, acknowledged in the government’s labour trafficking report published in 2011, that existing laws focus on the movement of individuals with the use of physical force or threats of physical force, and do not cover non-physical forms of coercion and use of fraud or deceit to exploit persons. In some cases, it was difficult or impossible for prosecutors to prove that the person allegedly engaged in exploitation had the necessary intention to exploit that person during their movement. NGOs also note that existing criminal laws do not adequately prohibit deceptive recruitment for labor services, offenses related to receiving and harboring trafficking victims, and some non-physical forms of coercion in trafficking crimes, and do not comply with Australia’s obligations under the UN TIP Protocol.
Once discovered Australia’s track record in protection is rated as good.
The Government provided $885,000 to its Victim Support Program in 2010, through which it identified and assisted a total of 31 people, 20 of whom were suspected victims of sex trafficking, and 11 of whom were suspected victims of forced labour. Eight of the 31 suspected victims were men, and all identified victims were foreigners. This was a decrease from the 57 suspected victims assisted during the previous year. The government’s victim support program provided eligible victims of trafficking with access to accommodation, financial assistance, legal advice, training, and social support. Authorities reported identifying an increasing number of victims in sectors outside of the sex industry, including in agriculture, construction, hospitality, domestic service, and recreation. Since 2004, approximately 15 percent of the victims who received services under the Program were victims of human trafficking that did not involve the sex trade; 11 of the 15 were identified during the reporting period.
There are numerous structural difficulties that prevent people from seeking or accessing help or assistance; in many cases, individuals only seek help once their situation deteriorates to such an extent that they literally could not remain in that situation either because of serious injury or fear about their personal safety. Identified victims were provided with accommodation, living expenses, legal aid, health services, and counseling. Most victims identified were from Malaysia, the Philippines, South Korea, and China. The government granted 20 victims, plus nine of their immediate family members, Permanent Witness Protection (Trafficking) visas, which required the victims’ contribution to an investigation or prosecution of an alleged trafficking offense. NGOs and service providers expressed concerns that victims of trafficking who were involved in cases that would not likely result in the prosecution of a trafficking offender did not have adequate access to victim support services, and that services designed to support victims and provide them with visas were in practice often linked closely to the ability of prosecutors to pursue cases against their traffickers.
Officials followed formal procedures for proactively identifying victims involved in the legal sex trade, and referred them for services, though efforts to identify and assist victims of forced labor could be improved. The government encouraged victims to participate in trafficking investigations, and granted selected victims visas to enable them to remain in Australia and support the investigation and prosecution of trafficking offenses. Victims identified by authorities were not incarcerated, fined, or penalized for unlawful acts committed as a direct result of being trafficked. To date, there have been few claims for compensation made on behalf of trafficking victims, and victims are not always informed about visa options available to individuals who wish to remain in Australia to pursue compensation or civil remedies, and what those options are.
The Government of Australia continued to demonstrate efforts to prevent trafficking in persons during the year. In November 2010, the government convened the third annual National Roundtable on People Trafficking, a mechanism for coordinating among its agencies, NGOs, unions, and industry bodies. The government continued to fund the Australian Institute of Criminology $600,000 a year to analyze trends in human trafficking in Australia and the region. During the year, the government announced that it would fund a total of $1.4 million to four NGOs to provide pro bono legal services to trafficking victims, direct support for victims, and raise community awareness of trafficking. The government also reported that $200,000 from confiscated criminal assets under the Proceeds of Crime Act of 2002 would be put towards labor trafficking protection and prevention efforts. The Fair Work Ombudsman continued to pursue efforts through the courts for workplace violations such as underpayment of wages; however, it was unknown whether any of its investigations led to criminal investigations for forced labor. During the year, the government published factsheets on identifying and acting on labor trafficking cases for its employees and employers. In 2007-2008, the government committed $38.3 million over four years for anti-trafficking activities. The government also published papers on forced and servile marriage and the criminal justice response to trafficking, and undertook public consultations with the goal of improving government efforts in these areas. Officials continued to include the “Travel Smart: Hints for Australian Travelers,” brochure with all passport issuances, which highlights Australian trafficking and child sex crime laws and details for reporting a possible violation of the child sex laws to the AFP.
Australia is a regional leader in combating trafficking in persons. During the year, some observers believed that the Australian government’s engagement with governments in the region seemed to emphasize people smuggling at the expense of trafficking in persons. At times, this impression was deleterious to efforts to improve anti-trafficking responses in the region. Australian diplomats and consular personnel received training on their obligations to report extraterritorial offenses of serious crimes, including child sex crimes and trafficking in persons. The government provided substantial funding for law enforcement training, victim assistance programs, and prevention activities throughout Southeast Asia. The Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), continued to fund anti-trafficking activities in the Asia-Pacific Region, including efforts to improve criminal justice systems to address trafficking, conduct child protection workshops for hotel staff overseas, and anti-trafficking public awareness programs. In 2010, five Australian offenders of child sex tourism in Thailand, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, and Singapore were convicted and sentenced to between one and four years’ imprisonment. The government did not take significant steps to reduce the demand for commercial sex acts aimed at clients of the sex trade during the reporting period. The Australian government educated troops and police officers on human trafficking prior to their deployments on international peacekeeping missions.
Lausen (2010) points out that although the number of identified cases of trafficking into Australia is relatively low, the hidden nature of this crime and reluctance of trafficked persons to report to authorities suggests that a number of cases may go unidentified and the problem may be more extensive than available data indicates. Much can be learned about the risks of exploitation, including trafficking, from an overview of undocumented movement throughout the region. It is thought that he risk of people being trafficked to Australia is largely mitigated by well-protected borders and economic opportunities in more accessible regions. However, laxity in sponsored and tourist or holiday visas has led to a rise in suspected victims so that management of the risks of trafficking in the southeast Asian region is connected to strategies that aim to prevent trafficking at source countries and to the activities of Australians and Australian entities in those countries. Characteristics of migration in southeast Asia—such as the role of informal networks in facilitating movement and the exploitation of migrants for non-sex work as well as sex work—hold important implications for Australia’s response to people trafficking.
Other regimes have similar difficulties in prosecution. A UN report cites the most recent figures for only a few countries where prosecution (nine countries) and case/arrest information (19 countries) is publicly available. Rated in the publication as a country high in citations as a destination country, the UK only had 15 cases over an 11 month period; Italy had 15 cases involving the arrest of 126 people over an 18 month period; and the Netherlands reported arresting 135 traffickers for the year 2003 (UNODC 2006: 36).
Controlling human data through data collection
Despite the attention which trafficking has received at the international and national level since the UN General Assembly adopted the convention on transnational crime and its associate protocol on trafficking in persons, there is still no reliable up to date data on the issues. There have been several large-scale efforts to estimate and document human trafficking across the world. A recent report, based on an analysis of a database which recorded citations of trafficking by various sources of information over the period 1996–2003, relies on secondary sources and provides a limited and potentially inaccurate picture of global patterns (UNODC 2006). Many of the citations came from previous or ongoing efforts to estimate and document human trafficking by a number of key institutions – the Trafficking in Persons (TIP) report produced annually by the US Department of State, reports produced by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and International Organization for Migration (IOM) which focus on forced labour, and a major report produced by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF 2005), Trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, in Africa.
The estimates found in these reports vary over time and across regions, primarily because human trafficking is an extremely difficult activity to investigate. There are also differences in focus and in methodologies. As the evidence base is shaky, and easy to challenge, it is important to consider how knowledge on this issue can be improved, in order to properly inform efforts to prevent and reduce trafficking.
In Australia Andreas Schloenhardt, Genevieve Beirne and Toby Corsbie reporting in the UNSW Law Journal in 2009 on “Human Trafficking And Sexual Servitude In Australia comment that,
“The most complete data on trafficking in persons in Australia to date can be found in the Annual Report of the Australian Federal Police (‘AFP’) which features a yearly ‘performance’ update on human trafficking related cases. The reporting on this issue commenced in the 2002–03 financial year and these figures are not always reported consistently. Between 2002–03 and 2007–08 the AFP’s Transnational Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking Teams (‘TSETT’) became aware of between 15 and 29 new cases annually; approximately 250 cases have been investigated since 1999 (when sexual slavery laws were first introduced). It is not possible to identify any trends about the levels of trafficking activity from this limited data.”
The total lack of current data is remarkable and may be a function of the effect of the global crises related generally to transnational crimes such as money laundering and tax evasion, as well as inappropriate regulatory models.Given that targets of trafficking are women and children for organs and labour it is reprehensible that a country as rich as Australia is not focussing on this problem, particularly as illegal immigration has been a focus of national debate for 2 years. The issuance of skilled 457 visas due to our labour shortages in mining areas which are not popular with Australian workers has become the latest means of human trafficking. Demonstrations have just occurred in Western Australia (November 2011) over the deliberate importation of this labour in preference to Australians as they will accept substandard conditions.
So what has research in Australia shown to date? Putt (2007) reports that the purpose of trafficking research and the importance placed on estimating numbers varies, but the main areas of focus tend to be trafficking into the sex industry, irregular migration or involvement of organised crime. Although the protocol explicitly refers to children, the type of human trafficking that has the greatest visibility, especially in first world countries, is the trafficking of women for the purposes of sexual exploitation. The reasons for exploitation vary and although the protocol includes forced labour, domestic servitude and the removal of organs, it seems that the trafficking that is most known about in Western Europe, the Americas and East Asia involves women who work in the sex industry in the destination countries, under debt bondage contracts or other forms of coercive control.
Some victims of trafficking may be aware that they will be working in the sex industry in the destination country or as a domestic worker. However, once illegally resident in a destination country, they can be vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Various commentators in Australia have recounted examples of debt-bonded prostitution, where women have to provide sexual services to a large number of clients over a specific period of time to pay off large debts. The issue of consent is problematic in such situations when threats, abuse of power or vulnerability pressures exist and becomes even more of an issue if the victim is a minor.
Schloenhard et al (2009, pp.36-37) appear to take the view that the media exaggerates the degree of human trafficking in Australia, concentrating on the sex trade and basically dismissing the news media reports as sensationalist.
“In examining these news reports, a lack of information in relation to several matters can be noted. For example, there is a distinct absence of reporting on trafficking in persons for purposes other than prostitution”
However the lack of funding to ensure that agencies such as the Australian Federal Police follow up on all types of temporary visas such as skilled and tourist, mean that it is impossible to condemn the media as it may be the only valve for venting the truth. Furthermore questions need to be asked regarding the involvement of transnational crime for purposes of money laundering, drug importation and tax evasion, an angle not considered by Schloenard et al (2009).
Putt (2007) reports on the lack of research on how crime groups and networks are involved in human trafficking and how such criminal transnational activity has been facilitated by the widespread use of the internet and other technological changes. Due to the difficulties of coordination of people moving illegally through multiple transit points and countries, it is suspected that the required level of organisation is provided by criminal groups connected with other activities. As Putt (2007) points out “various facilitators can be involved in people smuggling and trafficking including migration agents in source countries, corrupt officials, and transport agents/operators. Importantly, the global crime of trafficking involves other major crimes including fraud, kidnapping, identity crime, bribery and corruption, and deprivation of liberty – all of which have to be successfully coordinated and managed clandestinely to ensure that the operation is run sufficiently effectively and often enough to generate profit”.
Measuring the problem
The most cited global estimate of human trafficking is produced annually in the TIP report, by the US Department of State. The 2011 report concludes that
“Australia is primarily a destination country for women subjected to forced prostitution, and, to a lesser extent, women and men in forced labour and children in sex trafficking. It is also a source country for a small number of child victims of sex trafficking, primarily teenage girls, within the country. Some women from Thailand, Malaysia, South Korea, China, and, to a lesser extent, India, Vietnam, Eastern Europe, and Africa, migrate to Australia voluntarily intending to work legally or illegally in a number of employment sectors, including prostitution. Subsequent to their arrival, however, some of these women are coerced into prostitution in both legal and illegal brothels. There were news reports that some brothels are run by Asian organized crime groups that arrange for Asian women to travel, sometimes on student visas, to work in brothels. The women and girls are sometimes held in captivity, subjected to physical and sexual violence and intimidation, manipulated through illegal drugs, and obliged to pay off unexpected or inflated debts to their traffickers. Some victims of sex trafficking have also been exploited in domestic servitude.”
The methodology employed to produce this estimate and attendant claims remains unclear . The assessment of an individual country seems to involve US diplomatic missions consulting documentation and key stakeholders, but the number and nature of sources is not revealed. The 2011 TIP report states that,
“The Department of State prepared this report using information from U.S. embassies, government officials, nongovernmental and international organizations, published reports, research trips to every region, and information submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org. This email address provides a means by which organizations and individuals can share information with the Department of State on government progress in addressing trafficking. U.S. diplomatic posts and domestic agencies reported on the trafficking situation and governmental action to fight trafficking based on thorough research that included meetings with a wide variety of government officials, local and international NGO representatives, officials of international organizations, journalists, academics, and survivors. U.S. missions overseas are dedicated to covering human trafficking.”
Very broad ranges are often employed for country, regional and global estimates, with, for example, annual estimates of victims of sexual exploitation for Germany ranging from 2,000 to 20,000 and from 10,000 to 100,000 for Russia (Makkai 2003). There is also a large disparity between estimates and the number of known cases. An overview of human trafficking provided by the US National Institute of Justice in 2003 referred to estimates of 45,000–50,000 women and children being trafficked into the US but there were 38 documented cases involving 5,500 women in 1999–2000 (Makkai 2003).
Certainly there has been some debate in Australia on the estimated number of trafficking victims in the country, especially in relation to the numbers of foreign women in the sex industry estimated to be in servitude . The TIP (2011) report notes that,
“An Australian Institute of Criminology report on labor trafficking released by the government during the year, noted instances of unreported and unrecognized labor trafficking, seen through the vulnerability of 457 visa holders, nurses, workers in the meat, manufacturing, and agriculture industries, domestic workers, international students, and seafarers. During the year, there were increased reports by NGOs and other informed observers that individuals on student visas, typically from Asia, became victims of forced labor and forced prostitution in Australia. There are over 450,000 foreign students in Australia, many of whom spend up to tens of thousands of dollars in placement and academic fees, as completion of courses often leads to permanent residency in the country. Some in the housekeeping and restaurant industries are subject to a restriction of working a maximum of 20 hours per week under their visas. When asked to work for more than 20 hours, they face risk of losing their visas, making them vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous employers”.
Putt (2007) has criticisms of these estimates which are still valid. They are often without cited sources, or the sources do not reveal their methodology and these vaguely defined numbers are repeated, thereby reinforcing themselves . However, there are examples of more information being provided on methodology to produce estimates on the extent of trafficking. In an effort to produce a more accurate picture of human trafficking in Africa, UNICEF undertook country visits, a desk review and held an expert workshop. A database was developed to manage the quantitative and qualitative information on 53 African countries, which enabled the analysis of 8,500 pieces of data divided into 160 variables (UNICEF 2005). This has not been updated with the latest UNICEF report concentrating on specific targets eg children or countries, such as Liberia. An ILO (2005) report sought to provide a global minimal estimate of forced labour over a 10 year period. Double sampling was used and independently produced by two research teams in order to arrive at an estimate of the total number of persons in forced labour at a given time, including both non-reported and reported cases. The report noted that information was even less reliable in regions where awareness was low or where freedom of expression was restricted.
Common challenges to data collection are lack of oversight of data, poor information management systems, inadequate coordination between and within agencies, and sensitivities around data on trafficking, related to possible criticisms of government (David 2007). The only reliable data is identifying and documenting the patterns of human trafficking to build a picture of trafficking flows between countries and across regions, with countries being described as source, transit and destination countries (UNODC 2006). To summarise a range of factors contribute to the difficulties surrounding quantification of trafficking, at a country, regional or global level, such as under-reporting by victims, due to fear for themselves or their families, compounded by cultural and linguistic barriers that militate against reporting.
Future Measures to Prevent and Prosecute Human Trafficking in Australia
The US Department of Justice in its latest TIP 2011 report advocates that,
- Australia conduct a review of the Criminal Code and overall legal framework to ensure that laws enable the government to effectively prohibit and prosecute all forms of trafficking; expand efforts to proactively identify, criminally prosecute, and convict offenders of labour trafficking;
- improve efforts to coordinate and refer trafficking case information between government agencies;
- increase efforts to train police, local councils, health inspectors, and other front-line officers to recognize and respond to both sex and labour trafficking cases;
- increase efforts to proactively identify trafficking victims among vulnerable groups, such as foreign workers, foreign students in the country, and foreign and Australian women and children in prostitution; make efforts to improve the access of trafficking victims to opportunities to seek financial compensation and civil remedies;
- consider ways to better streamline and expedite visa processes for trafficking victims;
- ensure that victims of trafficking and vulnerable populations are informed about their legal rights under Australian immigration and labor law;
- conduct a campaign to raise public awareness in local communities of trafficking outside of the sex industry, including labor trafficking and internal trafficking;
- increase efforts to reduce the demand for forced prostitution through campaigns directed at clients of the sex trade; play a more active role in educating countries in the Asia-Pacific region on the important distinction between trafficking and smuggling;
- and consider appointing an Ambassador dedicated to addressing human trafficking issues worldwide.
Academics and others advocate a range of measures. For instance Putt (2007) point out that better estimates of numbers and flows are necessary which involves systematic and well-documented collection of data from a variety of sources, on an ongoing basis of agreed core items, across regions and by stakeholders within countries. Instead of concentrating on victim estimates, a crucial and potentially more fruitful avenue of inquiry is into the characteristics of the trafficking process, especially the networks and links across countries involving ‘cottage’ businesses and family networks. Multidisciplinary studies are required into patterns of trafficking, into the organisation of trafficking and of perpetrators, and into good practice in victim support and criminal justice responses.
Putt (2007) says there needs to be a concerted effort to increase the methodological rigour and transparency in trafficking research. This should not necessarily translate into a focus on estimates of victim numbers, which can consume considerable resources. Instead a strategic approach to monitoring known flows in key areas and among key sectors is important, along with the development of robust and realistic performance measures to assess the impact of anti-trafficking measures (GAO 2006). More could be done to improve existing data sources and to systematically learn from known trafficking cases that will help identify effective practices to detect trafficking and support victims (David 2007). In addition, innovative and exploratory research, which can complement intelligence activities, is required to ascertain whether there are hidden incidents involving, for example, males for the purposes of labour exploitation from nearby countries that could emerge as future flows and patterns in human trafficking to Australia.
Schloenhard et al (2009, pp.48-59) agrees that the central problems in identifying, exploring, and ultimately solving the problem of trafficking in persons are the illegal and clandestine nature of this
activity, the lack of cooperation of victims and witnesses with government authorities, and the shame and stigma attached to prostitution and other aspects of human trafficking. It is therefore important that any strategy designed to prevent, disrupt, and suppress trafficking in persons, actively assists victims and witnesses, and removes common stereotypes, preconceptions, and prejudices. Not only is it difficult to measure the current levels of trafficking in persons to Australia and the number of traffickers and their victims, it is equally difficult to measure the success of any action taken to prevent and suppress this type of crime. Greater numbers of arrests and prosecutions of traffickers alone, for instance, may demonstrate greater law enforcement activity, but they may also be indicative of more trafficking operations.
The Australian Government’s introduction of specialised visas for victims of trafficking in 2004 has been subject to significant scrutiny. The scheme appears to focus on the capacity of victims of trafficking to provide useful information to law enforcement agencies as the sole criterion for visa eligibility. This emphasis is seen as diminishing the levels of protection available to trafficked persons and contributing to the frequent deportation of persons who may be at risk of violence or further trafficking if they return home. Thus, many aspects of human trafficking and sexual servitude such as the recruitment and repatriation of victims remain hidden from scrutiny. The immigration status and legal protection available to both lawful and unlawful foreign sex workers also require further examination. More research into this phenomenon is necessary to make better estimates about the ‘true’ figure of this.
Lausen (2010) advocates sound risk-management initiatives in the Asian region, as well as Australian risk-management actions, as an important strategy. Management of regional risks of exploitation also holds implications for Australian activities in the region, such as child sex tourism, offshore labour arrangements and of course, trafficking. Australia’s extended geographical jurisdiction in relation to trafficking offences enables the prosecution of offences ‘committed outside Australia by an Australian company, citizen or resident’
This aspect of the legislation is an important tool for managing risks of exploitation and trafficking by Australians in the region. Furthermore, the significant role played by informal networks of migrants and facilitators (eg brokers/recruiters) in migration within and out of the southeast Asian region is of importance when considering future levels of migration into Australia and should be considered when responding to the problem of trafficking. Further research is required to learn more about the role of facilitators in migration and trafficking.
The need to look beyond trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation is obvious, given the potential exploitation of large numbers of migrant workers in the Australian agriculture, construction, mining and hospitality industries among others. Australia is a member of the International Labour Organisation and has ratified seven of the eight fundamental conventions which promote decent work by setting minimum labour standards for all industries. Hence the recent introduction of the Pacific Seasonal Worker Pilot Scheme in Australia, which tightly controls the supply of Pacific workers into the Australian agricultural industry, is one example of how a receiving country can seek to ensure the protection of migrant workers and maintain standards and conditions within the nation’s labour market The emergence of cases of migrants experiencing exploitation in various demonstrates that despite comparatively strong regulation across many labour sectors, such scenarios are a continuing risk that require sustained and dynamic responses.
The overall conclusion is that the Government of Australia must commit more funds to study how to strengthen existing legislation, to assist further research into data collection, and allocate more funds to the supervision of visa issuance and work permits which are allowing this practice to grow in Australia.
The headline facts
- An estimated 2.5 million people are in forced labour (including sexual exploitation) at any given time as a result of trafficking 1
o 1.4 million – 56% – are in Asia and the Pacific
o 250,000 – 10% – are in Latin America and the Caribbean
o 230,000 – 9.2% – are in the Middle East and Northern Africa
o 130,000 – 5.2% – are in sub-Saharan countries
o 270,000 – 10.8% – are in industrialized countries
o 200,000 – 8% – are in countries in transition 2
- 161 countries are reported to be affected by human trafficking by being a source, transit or destination count 3
- People are reported to be trafficked from 127 countries to be exploited in 137 countries, affecting every continent and every type of economy 4
- The majority of trafficking victims are between 18 and 24 years of age 5
- An estimated 2 million children are trafficked each year 6
- 95% of victims experienced physical or sexual violence during trafficking (based on data from selected European countries) 7
- 43% of victims are used for forced commercial sexual exploitation, of whom 98 per cent are women and girls 8
- 32% of victims are used for forced economic exploitation, of whom 56 per cent are women and girls 9
- Many trafficking victims have at least middle-level education 10
- 52% of those recruiting victims are men, 42% are women and 6% are both men and women 11
- In 54% of cases the recruiter was a stranger to the victim, 46% of cases the recruiter was known to victim 12
- The majority of suspects involved in the trafficking process are nationals of the country where the trafficking process is occurring 13
- Estimated global annual profits made from the exploitation of all trafficked forced labour are US$ 31.6 billion 14
o US$ 15.5 billion – 49% – is generated in industrialized economies
o US$ 9.7 billion – 30.6% is generated in Asia and the Pacific
o US$ 1.3 billion – 4.1% is generated in Latin America and the Caribbean
o US$ 1.6 billion – 5% is generated in sub-Saharan Africa
o US$ 1.5 billion – 4.7% is generated in the Middle East and North Africa15
- In 2006 there were only 5,808 prosecutions and 3,160 convictions throughout the world 16
- This means that for every 800 people trafficked, only one person was convicted in 2006 17
1 International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Statistics Factsheet (2007)
2 International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Statistics Factsheet (2007)
3 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns (Vienna, 2006)
4 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns (Vienna, 2006)
5 International Organization for Migration, Counter-Trafficking Database, 78 Countries, 1999-2006 (1999)
6 UNICEF, UK Child Trafficking Information Sheet (January 2003)
7 The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Stolen smiles: a summary report on the physical and psychological health consequences of women and adolescents trafficked in Europe (London, 2006)
8 International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Statistics Factsheet (2007)
9 International Labour Organization, Forced Labour Statistics Factsheet (2007)
10 International Organization for Migration, Counter-Trafficking Database, 78 Countries, 1999-2006 (1999)
11 International Organization for Migration, Counter-Trafficking Database, 78 Countries, 1999-2006 (1999)
12 International Organization for Migration, Counter-Trafficking Database, 78 Countries, 1999-2006 (1999)
13 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, Trafficking in Persons: Global Patterns (Vienna, 2006)
14 Patrick Besler, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits, working paper (Geneva, International Labour Office, 2005)
15 Patrick Besler, Forced Labour and Human Trafficking: Estimating the Profits, working paper (Geneva, International Labour Office, 2005)
16 US State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report (2007) p.36
17 US State Department, Trafficking in Persons Report (2007) p.36
 This is a similar definition as the 2000 Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children
 David F 2000. Human smuggling and trafficking: an overview of the response at the federal level. Research and public policy series no. 24. Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology
 Attorney-General’s Department 2004. Australian Government’s Action Plan to Eradicate Trafficking in Persons. Canberra: Attorney-General’s Department
Australian Federal Police (2003) Submission 37 to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission Inquiry into Trafficking in Women for Sexual Servitude. http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/acc_ctte/completed_inquiries/2002-04/sexual_servitude/submissions/sub37.pdf
 Carrington K & Hearn J (2003). Trafficking and the Sex Industry: From Impunity to Protection. Current issues brief no. 28. Canberra: Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library. Fergus L 2005. Trafficking in women for sexual exploitation. Briefing. Australian Centre for the Study of Sexual Assault: (5):1–44. http://www.aifs.gov.au/acssa/pubs/briefing/acssa_briefing5.pdf
 Pitt, J. (2007), “Human trafficking to Australia: a research challenge” in Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 338, ISSN 1836-2206, Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, June.
 Piper N 2005. A problem by a different name? A review of the research on trafficking in South-East Asia and Oceania, in Laczko F & Gozdziak E (eds), Data and research on human trafficking: a global survey. Geneva: IOM: 202–233
 Kaur A 2007. On the move: International migration in south–east Asia since the 1980s. History Compass 5(2): 302–313
Kaur A 2006. Managing the border: Regulation of international labour migration and state policy responses to global governance in south–east Asia. 16th biennial conference of the Asian studies association of Australia. Wollongong: June.
Kaur A 2004. Economic globalisation and the ‘new’ labour migration in south east Asia, in Tisdell CA & Sen RK (eds), Economic globalisation: Social conflicts, labour and environmental issues. UK: Edward Elgar Publishing.
 United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2009. Trafficking in persons global patterns. Vienna: UNODC
 Lausen, J.J., (2010) “Migration and people trafficking in southeast Asia” in Trends & issues in crime and criminal justice no. 401, ISSN 1836-2206, Canberra: Australian Institute of Criminology, November 2010
 United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 2006 Trafficking in Persons: global patterns, Vienna, UNODC. http://www.unodc.org/unodc/trafficking_persons_report_2006-04.html or http://www.unodc.org/pdf/traffickinginpersons_report_2006ver2.pdf
 ‘The Actual and Potential Use of Unregulated Financial Institutions for Transnational Crime’ in Greg N. Gregoriou, (ed), Operational Risk Toward Basel III: Best Practices and Issues in Modeling, Management, and Regulation, (Wiley 2009; ISBN: 978-0-470-39014-6).
 Jahic G & Finckenauer J 2005. Representations and misrepresentations of human trafficking. Trends in organized crime 8 (1): 24–40
 The 2000 Convention against Transnational Organized Crime, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons.
 AFP 2003. Submission 37 to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission Inquiry into Trafficking in Women for Sexual Servitude. http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/acc_ctte/completed_inquiries/2002-04/sexual_servitude/submissions/sub37.pdf
Carrington K & Hearn J 2003. Trafficking and the Sex Industry: From Impunity to Protection. Current issues brief no. 28. Canberra: Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library
 Makkai T & McCusker R 2004. What do we know? Improving the evidence base on trafficking in human beings in the Asia–Pacific region. Development bulletin no. 66: 36–42
Parliamentary Joint Committee on the Australian Crime Commission (PJCACC) 2004. Inquiry into the trafficking of women for sexual servitude report. Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia. http://www.aph.gov.au/Senate/committee/acc_ctte/completed_inquiries/2002-04/sexual_servitude/report/report.pdf
 A UNODC pilot survey in 16 countries and one region found that eight of 40 organised crime groups were involved in trafficking in persons activity (UNODC 2006). The two groups whose primary activity was trafficking were classified as ‘core groups’ – consisting of a tightly structured core group and links to a loose network of associates. The remaining six groups were engaged in numerous criminal activities with five hierarchically structured and five heavily involved in the transnational trafficking of various goods including drugs and firearms.
 Government Accountability Office (GAO) 2006. Human trafficking: better data, strategy, and reporting needed to enhance US antitrafficking efforts abroad. Washington DC: Government Accountability Office
 Makkai T 2003. Thematic discussion on trafficking in human beings. Workshop on trafficking in human beings, especially women and children, 12th Session of the Commission on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, Vienna, 15th May
 International Labour Organization (ILO) 2005. A global alliance against forced labour: global report under the follow up to the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principals and Rights at Work. Geneva: ILO Office
[i] Human Trafficking: The Facts, www.Unglobalcompact.Org/