People trafficking is difficult to detect as the modus operandi of traffickers and trafficking syndicates is thought to evolve in response to efforts to eradicate the crime. As estimated by the US Department of State, approximately 800,000 people are trafficked annually across international borders, with 80 percent of victims believed to be female, and up to 50 percent minors. It is believed that the majority of this trafficking is for commercial sexual exploitation.
New Zealand is committed to help fight trafficking. In 2002 New Zealand became party to the United Nations’ Convention against Transnational Organised Crime and the related Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (Trafficking Protocol). Also, since 2002, New Zealand has in place comprehensive legislation to prosecute offenders in people trafficking crimes. The penalties for trafficking offences are comparable to the penalties for murder and rape under New Zealand law. To this end, the government is focussing to ensure any future cases of trafficking to New Zealand are prevented before they occur. Similarly, actions are being developed to increase New Zealand’s capacity to detect any trafficking activity and to rehabilitate victims who may present in the future. Key to achieving these objectives is raising public awareness to create an environment to effectively prevent and detect trafficking.
The government’s work in this regard culminates in this Plan of Action. Because people trafficking issues have impacts on various aspects of society, New Zealand’s response is best prepared through a whole-of-government approach. The Plan of Action details the scope of measures and programmes that various government agencies are actively progressing to prevent people trafficking and prepare for any future cases that may arise. The Plan of Action will mainstream anti-people trafficking initiatives into existing government programmes.
The Plan of Action results from the cooperative work of the Inter-agency Working Group on people trafficking, the feedback from a public consultation round, and research on international experience of trafficking and best practice in trafficking related initiatives.