In 2003, the Australian Government announced a $20 million whole-of-government package of measures to combat trafficking in persons:
DIMIA and Australian Customs Service (ACS) have lead roles in dealing with illegal migration. The Australian Federal Police (AFP) has responsibility for the investigation of organized crime in people smuggling and investigation and charging of crews of people smuggling vessels. The AFP received a budget of USD$25.5 million for 2002-2003 to investigate and detect organized people smuggling based in Darwin. AFP created a joint People Smuggling Strike Team with the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA).
The AFP also has a Transnational Sexual Offenses Team, which investigates instances of human trafficking in Australia.
In July 2003 Australian Federal authorities have responded to the revelations of trafficked women from Southeast Asia by setting up Operation Tennessee - targeting the traffickers. A police ministers' conference earlier in July 2003 agreed to set up a national action plan and review laws on sexual servitude, deceptive recruiting and debt bondage.
Australia has taken a lead on trafficking through initiatives such as the Bali Regional Ministerial Conference on People Smuggling, Trafficking in Persons and Related Transnational Crime which Australia co-chaired with Indonesia in February 2002.
Asia Regional Cooperation to Prevent People Trafficking (ARCPPT) is a three year project which began in 2003 with $3.6 million USD from the Australian Government (AusAID) and managed by ACIL (Agricultural Consultants Incorporated Limited) Australia. ACIL is a company of international development consultants and project managers. The project is working in four countries: Thailand, Lao PDR, Myanmar (Burma) and Cambodia. The main focus of project activities is to strengthen the criminal justice process to combat the crime of human trafficking.
ECPAT Australia has created a CHILD WISE Think Tank on the prevention of child abuse in Southeast Asian tourism destinations.
In 1999 the Migration Act of 1958 was amended so that the penalty for people smuggling increased from two years imprisonment to 20 years jail penalty and/or a fine of up to Aus$220,000 (for smuggling a group of 5 or more). The penalty for individual instances of people smuggling increased to 10 years with a fine of up to Aus$110,000.
The Slavery and Sexual Servitude Act 1999 amended the Criminal Code of 1995. The 1999 Act creates a penalty of 25 years if a person, whether within or outside Australia:
In 2003, Australia utilized the act for the first time, charging eight people in Sydney and Melbourne for their role in trafficking persons. The Sex Slavery legislation relates only to traffickers and does not relate to the trafficked women.1
In several states in Australia, brothel prostitution is legalized. It seems that where brothel prostitution is legalized, as in Victoria , the illegal brothel industry is outstripping the legal sector. In 2002, there were 100 legal brothels and, according to the legal brothel owners, 300 illegal brothels. Trafficked women were sold into both legal and illegal brothels.2
Australia has signed the Convention to Combat Transnational Organized Crime. Australia also signed the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children on December 12, 2002 . However, it has not ratified either document. Australia has ratified the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention on the Abolition of Forced Labor. It has signed the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Australia has not ratified the ILO Convention 182 to Eliminate the Worst Forms of Child Labor.
1 Sheila Jeffreys. "Australia and the traffic in women into sexual exploitation." Arena Magazine. April 2002
2 Sheila Jeffreys. "Australia and the traffic in women into sexual exploitation." Arena Magazine. April 2002
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