Super exciting news all! A great new step has been made in the effort to end trafficking and modern slavery (in the SE Asia region at least) with the new amendments to Australian Legislation leading the way toward best practice standards in Trafficking Prevention and Prosecution!
The new amendments to Australian Anti-Trafficking Legislation expand the definitions of slavery and slavery like conditions to include new and increased penalties for forced marriage, forced labour and organ trafficking! These changes have been in the works for some time but were officially passed in the Federal Parliament last week!
This is a huge step forward for Australia in meeting their commitments to Human Rights and delivering on claims in being regional leaders on this issue.
I have personally made a submission to the parliamentary inquiry on the topic as well as composing a submission on behalf of the Anti-Trafficking Advocacy group Project Futures Ltd and view this as a huge win for Australia.
This is by no means an end to the fight, and improvements are still needed to reach best practice level, but we should all be proud of this momentous achievement and in being leaders on prevention and prosecution of this horrendous growing transnational crime!
Further amendments to ensure that victims of trafficking are awarded protection visas regardless of their ability to participate in prosecution cases and also to include provisions for prosecuting johns who knowingly use services from trafficked women are some items overlooked by the new legislation which we will continue to fight for in the future.
Below is an article which appeared in the Australian…
I hope everyone is as excited as I am by this phenomenal news!
Crackdown on slavery passes parliament
- February 27, 2013 1:04PM
LAWS cracking down on forced marriages and modern-day slavery have passed federal parliament.
The legislation, which cleared the Senate on Wednesday, gives police greater powers to investigate cases of forced labour, human trafficking and forced marriage, by making them criminal offences.
It also extends the law to cover all forms of deceptive recruitment and increases penalties for debt bondage.
Labor senator John Faulkner said slavery existed in sectors such as hospitality, construction and agriculture, as well as domestic situations.
He highlighted a case in the NSW Blue Mountains where a restaurateur was prosecuted after promising a better life to an Indian national following his arrival in Sydney.
“This individual’s travel documents were seized and he was forced to work hours on end without pay as a kitchen hand, accommodated only in a backyard tin shed.”
Britain abolished slavery 189 years ago, and the United States 147 years ago.
But Senator Faulkner said the anti-slavery bill recognised that slavery remained a reality in Australia today.
“This bill will ensure more investigations, simpler trials, and swifter convictions for those involved in such appalling exploitation and denial of liberty,” he said.
While the coalition supported the legislation, it made a failed attempt to amend the government bill.
Shadow attorney-general George Brandis raised concerns that the presumption of innocence had been abolished for those accused of forced marriage.
“There is no doubt that forced marriage is akin to slavery,” he said.
“I caution, however, that there are many practices against which we as a society set our faces without abolishing the fundamental rights of an accused person.”
Australian Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said the legislation should be expanded so that people who intentionally sought out sexual services from a trafficked woman faced criminal punishment.
“If it is a crime to put women into these circumstances, which it should be, it should also be a crime to knowingly use that service,” she said.
“Otherwise we’re simply turning a blind eye to why these services are even able to continue.”
The Crimes Legislation Amendment (Slavery, Slavery-Like Conditions and People Trafficking) Bill 2012 passed the Senate without amendments and now awaits royal assent.