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‘It’s happening here’: Horror crime set to ramp up as borders open



The Australian Federal Police say they believe human traffickers – people who bring sex slaves, domestic slaves and forced brides into the country – have been waiting for border restrictions to ease to bring in their victims.In the 2020 financial year, police investigated 20 reports of human trafficking in Queensland, including six cases of forced marriage, four of sexual servitude, four of forced labour, two of child trafficking, two of trafficking and one each of domestic servitude and slavery.Victoria had the most reports, followed by New South Wales, in the 2020/21 financial year, with 83 and 75 respectively.The most prevalent form of human trafficking in both states was forced marriage.“This is a reminder that forcing someone to leave or enter Australia using coercion, threats or deception is an offence under our laws, and Commonwealth human trafficking offences and penalties apply,” AFP Detective Superintendent Human exploitation Jayne Crossling said.“Human trafficking is happening here in Australia and it is up to all of to work together to protect people who are vulnerable to these exploitative crime types.”She said Australians at airports should look out for other passengers who appear reluctant to travel or who seem to be under the control of another person.Outside of airports, Queenslanders should look out for people in their community who do not have access to their passport, those with poor living or working conditions with little or no access to money or people who appear to always be in the company of their employer or another person.Reports of human trafficking tripled in Australia from 2013/14 to 2020/21 and remained steady during the pandemic.In 2013/14, police investigated 70 reports nationwide, increasing to 224 in 2020/21, despite limited international travel.Dept Supt Crossling said police were receiving increasing reports of people trafficked out of Australia – victims who were forced to leave the country to be forced into marriages, sexual servitude or slavery overseas.“People are also deceived into leaving or being forced out of Australia, which is known as exit trafficking,” she said.“This type of human trafficking appears to be on the rise based on reports that we received last year and we feat it will increase again along with inbound trafficking as the borders reopen.”In January, a Sydney man became the first person in Australia to be convicted of an exit human trafficking offence.The man used threats, coercion and deception to force a woman and her baby to return to India. The woman told police he threatened to murder her if she did not board the plane.Airport CCTV footage showed the man arguing with the distressed woman, before she and her baby boarded the plane.She was able to return two months later and contacted Anti-Slavery Australia for help.The man was sentenced to 21 months in prison. Traffickers risk spending a maximum of 12 years in prison.“If you or someone you know could be a victim of this crime type, please report it by calling 131 AFP (237),” Det Supt Crossling said.If someone is in immediate danger, call Triple-0.

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