Fijian woman charged with human trafficking to NZ where victims were 'heavily exploited'

A Fijian woman has been charged with human trafficking of Fijian people to New Zealand where it's alleged they were heavily exploited.

The 31-year-old Fijian citizen was arrested and charged by the Fiji Police with serious crimes including human trafficking as a result of a joint Immigration New Zealand and Fijian Police investigation.

She was arrested in Suva last Thursday and made her first appearance in the Suva Magistrate Court on Saturday. 

It's alleged the woman organised and facilitated the travel and work arrangements for a number of Fijian victims who arrived in New Zealand and were subsequently heavily exploited. 

The joint investigation involving both Immigration NZ and Fijian authorities relates to New Zealand’s first successful human trafficking prosecution against Faroz Ali in 2016.

Ali was sentenced at the High Court in Auckland in 2016 to a total of nine years and six months imprisonment after being found guilty of 15 human trafficking and other immigration related offences.

Immigration NZ Assistant General Manager Peter Devoy says the joint investigation shows that allegations of people trafficking, migrant exploitation and immigration fraud will be vigorously pursued on or offshore with the cooperation of international authorities.  

"New Zealand is committed to eliminating people trafficking and will work closely with offshore authorities when the need arises. The excellent work completed by INZ staff and our Fijian colleagues has allowed for these charges to be brought by the Fiji Police. I hope the victims can take some comfort from this fact," Mr Devoy said. 

Immigration NZ says it has a significant amount of work in place to educate and empower migrant workers and their employers to understand and act on their rights and obligations. 

Specialist guides for migrant workers and employers have been developed with information on minimum employment rights, health and safety, improving workplace communications and where to go for further settlement support. People can also contact CrimeStoppers anonymously.

As the matter is now before the Fijian courts, Immigration NZ says it is unable to provide any further comment.

Nadi Airport, Fiji. Source: Wikimedia Commons: Maksym Kozlenko