A 28-year-old Darwin man has appeared before Darwin Local Court for allegedly exit trafficking his wife to India in 2019 and stealing more than $60,000 from her and other relatives.
Detectives from Australian Federal Police (AFP) Human Trafficking Operations began investigations in March 2020, following a report from a member of the public in Darwin.
It will be alleged in court the man was physically abusive to his 27-year-old wife and used coercion and threats to garnish her wages, access bank accounts and gain money from her family.
The AFP alleges the man deceived the woman into flying to India in February 2019, under the pretense of organising visas for travel to the United States.
The man did not travel to India and it will be alleged he provided false and misleading information to the Federal Circuit Court, where he commenced divorce proceedings in January 2020.
The 28-year-old man appeared at Darwin Local Court on Friday charged with:
One count of trafficking in persons (exit from Australia) contrary to section 271.2(1A) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) for facilitating the exit of the woman from Australia to India through the use of deception.
The maximum penalty for this offence is 12 years imprisonment.
The woman has since returned to Australia and is receiving ongoing support from the AFP and Red Cross (through their Support for Trafficked People Program).
Detective Superintendent Paula Hudson, of AFP Northern Command said AFP officers worked closely with the Department of Home Affairs, along with non-government organisations to investigate this matter.
“Partnerships are critical to the effective investigation of human trafficking offences and the AFP continues to build strong working relationships to investigate these offences,” Detective Superintendent Hudson said.
“This is a reminder that forcing someone to leave Australia using coercion, threats or deception is an offence under our laws, and Commonwealth human trafficking offences and penalties apply.”
“Human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices are happening here in Australia and it is up to all of us to work together to protect people who are vulnerable to these exploitative crime types. If you or someone you know could be a victim of this crime type, please report it by calling 131 AFP (237).”
The AFP is an active member of the Interdepartmental Committee on Human Trafficking and Slavery and Operational Working Groups.
For the financial year 2019/2020, the AFP received 223 reports of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like offences.
The AFP works with international partners through the AFP’s international network, Department of Foreign Affairs and other organisations, including the Santa Marta Group, to promote awareness for and combat modern slavery and human trafficking.