Immigration Samoa in dark on alleged human trafficking case

By Ivamere Nataro 18 December 2018, 12:00AM

Samoa Immigration has never heard of the Samoan national being charged and arrested for slavery and human trafficking in New Zealand. 

This is according to the Assistant C.E.O. of Immigration, Siaopo Pese.

Contacted for a comment yesterday, he said he was unaware of the case involving Viliamu Samu, 64, who allegedly took Samoans from here to New Zealand to work illegally in the horticulture industry across the Hawke’s Bay region.

“I am not aware of the case, and am not sure of the person. This is the first time for me to hear of a Samoan national being charged of human trafficking from you,” he told Samoa Observer. 

“Right now the seasonal workers programme is being looked after by the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Labour.” 

Asked whether the victims will be returned to Samoa, Siaopo said: “I have no comment on the matter. People have the right to go to New Zealand and work, and return when they wish.”

Siaopo said he would be able to provide more comments on the matter later in the week because he was unaware of the issue. 

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern told Radio New Zealand yesterday she has not been briefed on whether the complainants would remain in New Zealand or not.

"We want to do more to uncover where exploitation is occurring. We had roughly 1,800 complaints in the last year. That led to 13 prosecutions, 320 other outcomes and 300 investigations that are still ongoing.

"It is fair to say that there is quite a bit of work in this space but we do need to do more."

The New Zealand Police media team, in response to questions sent by the Samoa Observer, said the matter is before Court and there is nothing they can further say at the moment.  

New Zealand Immigration in a statement said allegations made by the victims include not being paid for work completed, having their passports taken, and being subjected to physical assaults and threats. 

The victims also allege that their movements were closely monitored and controlled by the man, and there were restrictions on both where they went and who they had contact with.

INZ assistant general manager, Peter Devoy says the arrest was the result of around two years of detailed investigative work by INZ and NZ Police. 

By Ivamere Nataro 18 December 2018, 12:00AM

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