The Chinese worker who left police custody on the way to the airport on Thursday night had a charge of absconding, which carries a maximum sentence of five years, withdrawn when he appeared in the Auckland District Court this morning.
The worker who was in a very distressed state after 10-days in custody had simply opened an unlocked door of the patrol car on the way to the airport and got out. He had hoped to recover lost property and money he was owed. He then walked for seven hours’ confused and disoriented before speaking to an early morning exerciser who spoke Mandarin and they agreed that he should surrender himself to the police again.
The worker’s lawyer, Matt Robson, said he has suffered migrant labour exploitation and should be released to allow that to be investigated but the magistrate said he had no power to do so and he was remanded in police custody again on the outstanding immigration matters.
The worker asked to speak to the Court and begged to be able to work in New Zealand so he could earn back the large amount of money paid in fees to get here and provide for his parents, wife and child back in China.
The Minister of Immigration Kris Faafoi has said this case is not a case of trafficking. The person he delegated the authority to make this decision did so, it seems from the email trail, after examining the documents for 20 minutes.
But the government’s own website on trafficking includes the circumstances of these workers who were recruited and made false promises in China and paid huge fees for fake visas that they thought would be work visas and were then told they could change from their visitor status once they arrived, which was a lie. At the top of the site is a summary statement:
The United Nations defines people trafficking as the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person by deceptive, coercive or other improper means for the purpose of exploiting that person. It is a global crime, committed at the expense of victims who are robbed of their dignity and freedom.
Unite Union advocate Mike Treen wants to know from Minister Kris Faafoi which part of “recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of a person by deceptive, coercive or other improper means for the purpose of exploiting that person,” does not apply in this and so many other cases that go without investigation.