1 Dec 2011

Confusion over people trafficking and smuggling in Pacific

3:04 pm on 1 December 2011

The author of a report on human trafficking in the Pacific says there's a lot of confusion about what it actually means.

A two-day conference in Wellington this week aims to abolish some of the myths surrounding trafficking, including that it's not taking place in the region.

Laura Beacroft of the Australian Insititute of Criminology says trafficking involves people being trapped by their circumstances and it's difficult to give a definitive answer on the scale of the activity in the Pacific.

She says it's important not to confuse it with smuggling, which involves taking people across borders illegally and not for the purpose of exploitation.

"Trafficking is completely different business model. The offenders make their money largely from exploiting the person at destination so ideally they don't want a person to be smuggled in. Ideally the person will brought in legally so they're under the radar so they can exploit them at destination."

Laura Beacroft says the cases in which there have been prosecutions have involved migrant workers coming to Pacific Islands.