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15 February 2024, 3:02pm
Media Release

NT man extradited to QLD to face forced labour charges

Editor's Note: Images and vision of the extradition are available via Hightail

A Northern Territory man appeared in a Queensland court today (15 February, 2024) on new aggravated servitude and deceptive recruiting charges in connection to the alleged illegal treatment of workers on board a fishing vessel.

The AFP extradited the Humpty Doo man, 47, from Darwin yesterday (14 February, 2024) to face the Cairns Magistrates’ Court today charged with multiple counts of:

  • Causing a person to enter or remain in servitude, contrary to section 270.5(1) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth);
  • Conducting a business involving the servitude of another person, contrary to section 270.5(2) of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth); and
  • Deceptive Recruiting for labour or services, contrary to section 270.7 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth).

These offences carry a maximum penalty of 20 years, 15 years, and nine years’ imprisonment respectively.

The man was granted bail with strict conditions during today’s hearing and his next appearance is scheduled for 20 March, 2024.

Police arrested the man in Darwin on Tuesday and he appeared in court the Darwin Magistrates’ Court yesterday where an extradition order was granted by the court.

The defendant had already been facing multiple charges relating to alleged forced labour and servitude offences. These charges relate to an AFP investigation launched in August, 2023, following information from Queensland Police about two alleged victims rescued from a fishing vessel.

The man had allegedly used an online job board to advertise for deckhands and coxswains to work on his fishing boat.

The workers alleged they were forced to work without pay, were provided with little food and water and held on the man’s fishing vessel against their will.

The AFP arrested and charged the man in December 2023.

The investigation is ongoing.

Detective Inspector Mary Bolton said the AFP urged people with information related to this investigation to contact police.

“Recognising and reporting these offences is an important step to ensure the safety and welfare of victims and prosecute those who have exploited and caused them harm,” Det-Inspector Bolton said.

“The AFP is urging anyone who has been through this experience, or knows someone who has, to please come forward and contact the AFP on 131 237 or use the AFP’s confidential online form.”

If you have immediate concerns for your safety, the safety of another person, or there is an emergency, dial Triple Zero (000).

The Support for Trafficked People Program is a key component of Australia’s response to support victims of human trafficking, slavery and slavery-like practices, and is delivered nationally by the Australian Red Cross.

If you or someone you know is being exploited, help is available. For information and confidential advice please contact Australian Red Cross. Call 1800 113 015 or visit the Red Cross website.

As part of the AFP’s commitment to combatting human trafficking and slavery offences in Australia, the AFP is using technology as a tool to counter these crimes and has developed a training and awareness program, entitled “Look-a-Little-Deeper” to help state and territory police and other Commonwealth agencies recognise signs of human trafficking and slavery type offences in the community.

The program is estimated to have reached more than 140,000 members of state, territory and Commonwealth agencies over the past four years.

Note to media

Human trafficking offences involve the physical movement of people across or within borders by coercing, threatening or deceiving them for the purpose of exploiting them when they reach their destination.

Slavery and slavery-like offences involve the ownership of a person or exploitation of a person in circumstances similar to slavery.

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