Three People Charged With Slavery Offences

, Three People Charged With Slavery Offences

Three People Charged With Slavery Offences

A family of three Australians faced Court today, accused of forcing a woman from Afghanistan into “domestic servitude”.

THE STORY

The woman subject to the domestic servitude is from Afghanistan and the three accused of these crimes include her 39-year-old Australian husband, his 28-year-old brother and their 58-year-old mother in Merrylands, following a lengthy investigation. It’s alleged that the three forced the woman into servitude before deceiving her into travelling to Afghanistan on a one-way ticket. Her husband allegedly travelled to Afghanistan with her in January 2018, leaving her there when he returned to Australia a few days later, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) revealed in a statement today. The woman then returned to Australia in February of 2018 and informed the authorities. It is said that in March 2018, the AFP and Border Force officers raided a property in Merrylands, seizing the Afghan woman’s belongings and almost $89,000 in cash. The 39-year-old man and 58-year-old woman have both been charged with two counts of possessing a slave and two counts of excessive powers of ownership over a slave. The 28-year-old man was charged with two counts of excessive powers of ownership over a slave. No bail applications were made today, and bail was formally refused when their matters were mentioned today at Central Local Court. They are due to appear again tomorrow. The AFP is now planning on re-opening an investigation from 2013 into allegations of domestic servitude involving the 39-year-old man’s first wife.

THE LAW

Section 270.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (the Criminal Code) – Slavery offences

(1)  A person who, whether within or outside Australia, intentionally:

(aa) reduces a person to slavery; or

(a)  possesses a slave or exercises over a slave any of the other powers attaching to the right of ownership; or

(b)  engages in slave trading; or

(c)  enters into any commercial transaction involving a slave; or

(d)  exercises control or direction over, or provides finance for:

(i)  any act of slave trading; or

(ii)  any commercial transaction involving a slave;

commits an offence.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 25 years.

(2)  A person who:

(a)  whether within or outside Australia:

(i)  enters into any commercial transaction involving a slave; or

(ii)  exercises control or direction over, or provides finance for, any commercial transaction involving a slave; or

(iii)  exercises control or direction over, or provides finance for, any act of slave trading; and

(b)  is reckless as to whether the transaction or act involves a slave, slavery, slave trading or the reduction of a person to slavery;

commits an offence.

Penalty:  Imprisonment for 17 years.

Section 270.5 of the Criminal Code – Servitude Offences

Causing a person to enter into or remain in servitude

(1)  A person commits an offence if:

(a)  the person engages in conduct; and

(b)  the conduct causes another person to enter into or remain in servitude.

Penalty:

(a)  in the case of an aggravated offence–imprisonment for 20 years; or

(b)  in any other case–imprisonment for 15 years.

Conducting a business involving servitude

(2)  A person commits an offence if:

(a)  the person conducts any business; and

(b)  the business involves the servitude of another person (or persons).

Penalty:

(a)  in the case of an aggravated offence–imprisonment for 20 years; or

(b)  in any other case–imprisonment for 15 years.

Section 270.6A of the Criminal Code – Forced labour offences

Causing a person to enter into or remain in forced labour

(1)  A person commits an offence if:

(a)  the person engages in conduct; and

(b)  the conduct causes another person to enter into or remain in forced labour.

Penalty:

(a)  in the case of an aggravated offence–imprisonment for 12 years; or

(b)  in any other case–imprisonment for 9 years.

Conducting a business involving forced labour

(2)  A person commits an offence if:

(a)  the person conducts any business; and

(b)  the business involves the forced labour of another person (or persons).

Penalty:

(a)  in the case of an aggravated offence–imprisonment for 12 years; or

(b)  in any other case–imprisonment for 9 years.

Note:          On a trial for an offence against section 270.5 (servitude offences), the trier of fact may find a defendant not guilty of that offence but guilty of the corresponding offence under this section (see subsections 270.5(3) and (4)).

Section 270.8 outlines what makes slavery-like offences, aggravated

(1)  For the purposes of this Division, a slavery-like offence committed by a person (the offender) against another person (the victim) is an aggravated offence if any of the following applies:

(a)  the victim is under 18;

(b)  the offender, in committing the offence, subjects the victim to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment;

(c)  the offender, in committing the offence:

(i)  engages in conduct that gives rise to a danger of death or serious harm to the victim or another person; and

(ii)  is reckless as to that danger.

(2)  If the prosecution intends to prove an aggravated offence, the charge must allege the relevant aggravated offence.

(3)  If, on a trial for an aggravated offence, the trier of fact is not satisfied that the defendant is guilty of the aggravated offence, but is otherwise satisfied that the defendant is guilty of the corresponding slavery-like offence, it may find the defendant not guilty of the aggravated offence, but guilty of the corresponding slavery-like offence.

(4)  Subsection (3) only applies if the defendant has been afforded procedural fairness in relation to the finding of guilt for the corresponding slavery-like offence.

ASTONISHMENT THAT THIS HAS OCCURRED

This case is very concerning, considering slavery was abolished back in 1833 by the British Empire, covering Australia. Of course, modern-day slavery comes in many forms now; with human traffickers taking advantage of the desperation of people from poverty-stricken countries trying to find a better life elsewhere. Traffickers lure victims in with promises of residency visas and employment, then, they get sold to either the sex trade, or as domestic servants, for example.

To learn more about the UN Human Rights Slavery Convention, their Articles can be found here.

To learn more about Commonwealth offences, read our dedicated page here.

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