14 May 2010

Tonga police lay people trafficking charges

7:50 am on 14 May 2010

Tongan police have charged two people with human trafficking, the first case of its kind in the country.

Police say the arrests relate to the recruitment and transportation from another country, and the harbouring of young women in Nuku'alofa.

The Police Commander, Chris Kelley, says in essence women are being brought to Tonga under a pretense, and being forced to work as sex workers.

"The section of the transnational crimes act relates to the explotation of these young women and in this cases for the purposes of sexual exploitation, quite bluntly, prostitution. Search warrants were executed on two premises on Monday the tenth, and action by police on that day prevented the suspects from leaving the country, which they intended to do on the following day."

Chris Kelley says the arrests are significant, because police have recently prosecuted several other cases involving the transnational crimes act, including one of people smuggling.