The media has in the last week made much of the first human trafficking convictions in NZ. The article quotes well known immigration lawyer Richard Small as stating that the case is just ‘the tip of the iceberg’.
In another article, the headline reads The dark underbelly of human trafficking in New Zealand.
Although there could be thousands of ‘slaves’ in NZ working illegally and suffering systemic abuse, I’m sceptical enough to not expect any further court cases of this type in the foreseeable future, unless the media takes a more aggressive journalistic approach and reports strenuously and consistently on the issues they become aware of, until the politicians are embarrassed into demanding, and funding, action.
It is obvious from the NZ Herald report that getting that one trafficker to court took huge resources and cost enormous amounts of money. 5000 hours, multiple trips to Fiji and hundreds of pages of evidence, and I suspect many hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Sadly, our government departments are not funded for those levels of expenses and do not have the resources to take on the other more challenging areas in the iceberg that Richard refers to.
Unfortunately, the resources that would be required for government to seriously tackle the involvement of gangs and criminal organisations in today’s version of slavery are beyond the willingness of our politicians to commit to.
Consequently, in my opinion, it seems that the compliance section of Immigration New Zealand is restricted in its ability to take action, to chasing cheap and easy cases, such as deporting the victims, the people who have already been most damaged by the traffickers and the ‘employers’ of the slaves in NZ.