Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigators have charged two men and one woman with slavery offences following an investigation that commenced in March 2018.
The human trafficking investigation centers on allegations that a woman, an Afghani citizen married to an Australian man, was deceived by her husband and his family into travelling to Afghanistan on a one-way ticket. Her husband, who travelled to Afghanistan with her in January 2018, then allegedly returned to Australia a few days later without her.
The woman returned to Australia in February 2018 and alerted authorities. AFP and Australian Border Force officers executed a search warrant at a residence in the Sydney suburb of Merrylands on 27 March 2018, seizing personal items belonging to the woman, along with $88,750 in cash.
AFP officers today arrested a 39-year-old man, 28-year-old man, and 58-year-old woman at their Merrylands residence.
It will be alleged that the woman was forced into domestic servitude before her departure to Afghanistan. Further, it will be alleged that the woman’s 39-year-old husband, his 28-year-old brother, and 58-year-old mother – who all reside in Merrylands – were participants in this criminal activity.
The 39-year-old man and 58-year-old woman have both been charged with:
- Two counts of possessing a slave, contrary to Section 270.3 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
- Two counts of excessive powers of ownership over a slave, contrary to Section 270.3 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The 28-year-old man has been charged with two counts of exercise powers of ownership over a slave, contrary to Section 270.3 (1) (a) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).
The maximum penalty for these offences is 25 years imprisonment.
These investigative activities resulted in AFP re-opening an investigation into a 2013 referral relating to allegations of domestic servitude involving the 39-year-old man’s first wife. This investigation remains ongoing.
AFP Acting Commander National Response Operations, Chris Goldsmid said the AFP will continue to work closely with the Australian government and its law enforcement partners, along with non-government organisations to investigate allegations of slavery and protect victims of this appalling crime.
“The two alleged victims in this matter have been supported under the Australian Government’s Support for Trafficked People Program.
“This investigation is a reminder that modern slavery exists in Australia. The exercise of ownership rights over another person is an offence under our laws, with strict Commonwealth slavery and slavery like offences in place”, Acting Commander Goldsmid said.
The two men and a woman are expected to appear before Sydney Central Local Court today (10 July 2019).