News/Australia: It's open slather for slave traders

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Subject: News/Australia: It's open slather for slave traders
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Sep 02 1999 - 11:09:29 EDT


It's open slather for slave traders
By ANDREW CLENNELL and KATE McCLYMONT
Sydney Morning Herald, August 31, 1999, p.1

The Federal Police have not acted against organised crime syndicates
involved in illegal immigration prostitution rackets since 1995, the year
prostitution was made legal in NSW.

Since then, hundreds of new Asian brothels have opened across Sydney, and
dozens of illegal Asian workers are being deported routinely after being
found working in brothels by compliance officers from the Department of
Immigration.

One senior law officer said that while their intelligence showed the
practice of supplying illegal sex workers to brothels - with owners able to
order as many girls as they want, even specifying size and shape - he
admitted that due to pressure to tackle drugs no organisation was targeting
the immigration rackets.

The Department of Immigration and Multicultural Affairs (DIMA) concentrates
on sending the prostitutes home and on "immigration fraud and malpractice".
The department says itis the AFP's job to go after the organised crime
syndicates.

But an AFP spokesman said: "We, I think, have been willing to let DIMA
handle most of the passport offences and thesesorts of issues. I'm not
quitesure why we haven't been involved in more [operations] ... but we
haven't been."

Singapore-born Sunny Soon Kiat Liu, 37, is still believed to be supplying
illegal prostitutes to brothels. In 1992, after an AFP investigation, he
was charged with conspiring against the Commonwealth Migration Act after
being caught ferrying around a number of prostitutes with false passports.
The case was later dropped.

Since then, brothels associated with Liu have featured in several cases
involving illegal workers which have come before the Immigration Review
Tribunal.

New sex slavery laws were passed in Federal Parliament this month, aimed at
cracking down on prostitute smugglers who force girls to service for free
as many as 400 or 500 clients under their "contract".

But, to date, the Federal Police do not have a taskforce to deal with the
issue. The AFP spokesman said he was not awareof any new taskforce being
planned but "whatever we were intending to do we wouldn't be about to
telegraph it".

Federal Agent Rob Gilder hopes the tighter laws will lead to more resources
to fight illegal immigration and sex slavery.

The NSW deputy Liberal leader, Mr Barry O'Farrell,who had a brothel open
next to his office in Gordon, complained yesterday about the failure of the
Carr Government's brothel legislation.

"We were sold the legislation on the basis it would letlocal councils
decide where in these communities they could operate," he said.

The Opposition yesterday called for a full review of the Disorderly Houses
Amendment Act 1995 which legalisedprostitution, saying that although it had
originally supported the legislation, it did not appear to be working.

A spokeswoman for the Attorney-General, Mr Shaw, said a plan to set up a
taskforce to review the legislation was still in the hands of the Premier.

But there was "absolutely no way anyone could consider the days of
corruption and criminality in relation to brothelsshould have been allowed
to remain", she said.

Melanie Orhant
morhant@igc.org
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