NZ named as sex trafficking 'source country'

New Zealand has been named as a "source country" for sex trafficking of underage girls and a destination country for forced labour in a sharply critical report released by the US State Department.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton released the annual Trafficking in Persons report in Washington DC this morning.

It accuses New Zealand of having a small number of girls and boys, often of Maori or Pacific Island descent, who are trafficked domestically as street prostitutes.

They can be the victim of gang trafficking rings, the report said.

Foreign women from China and Southeast Asia are sometimes recruited to become prostitutes in New Zealand and may be at risk of coercive practices, it said.

The report also takes aim at the violent and abusive conditions allegedly in place on some foreign-flagged fishing vessels in New Zealand waters.

Fishermen from Indonesia, Cambodia, Vietnam and Thailand are subjected to conditions of forced labour, including debt bondage, imposition of significant debts, physical violence, mental abuse, and excessive hours of work, it said.

The Government recently announced all foreign-flagged fishing vessels will be reflagged to New Zealand, meaning the full range of New Zealand law, including employment relations and workplace health and safety law, will automatically apply and be enforceable.

Ms Clinton said sex trafficking and exploitative labour practices were examples of "modern slavery".


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