Police arrest three after Sydney human trafficking investigation

Two women and a man were arrested by Australian Federal Police (AFP) officers last night and charged with offences concerning holding a foreign national against their will and perverting the course of justice.

The trio were arrested in the Sydney suburb of Eastlakes yesterday evening (2 December 2019) following a police investigation into alleged human trafficking that began in January 2019.

Police will allege the man and two women employed a 26-year-old Indonesian national as a maid in their Sydney residences from July 2014. From August 2014 the victim became an unlawful non-citizen and during that time, was not allowed possession of her passport or allowed to return home.

It is further alleged that during this time the Indonesian woman was subject to significant work hours without remuneration.

New South Wales Police attended the Eastlakes residence in January 2019 following reports a woman living in the residence was not permitted to leave the premises. The matter was then referred to the AFP’s Sydney Human Trafficking team, with yesterday’s arrests the culmination of this investigation.

A 38-year-old woman is scheduled to appear before Sydney Central Local Court today, while a 35-year-old woman and a 34-year old man were granted police bail to appear before the Downing Centre Local Court on Monday, 16 December.

AFP Sydney Human Trafficking Superintendent Monica Semrad said that human trafficking in Australia is a hideous crime, often in plain sight, which police are working tirelessly to combat.

“This is an example of someone being brought to Australia without their informed consent and forced to remain and work in conditions that most Australians would find reprehensible,” she said.

“These types of investigations can take some time, but we want to assure the public – and any other people who may be subject to similar circumstances – that the AFP is committed to thoroughly investigating these matters and holding people to account for their criminal actions.

“We urge members of the public to speak up if they think someone is being trafficked or held against their will. Forcing someone to work and remain in Australia is a crime and police will do all that they can to assist victims and ensure offenders are placed before the courts.”

All three people arrested yesterday were charged with concealing and harbouring non-citizens, contrary to section 233E(3) of the Migration Act 1958 (Cth). The maximum penalty for this offence is 10 years imprisonment.

The 38-year-old woman was also charged with perverting the course of justice, contrary to section 319 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). The maximum penalty for this offence is 14 years imprisonment.

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