AFP lays first exit trafficking charge in Victoria

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Editor’s Note: Audio grabs are available via hightail from AFP Acting Commander Ray Imbriano

A 50-year-old man will today (9 March 2022) be the first Victorian to face court for an exit trafficking offence, after he allegedly deceived a woman into travelling to Sudan in order to cancel her visa and prevent her return to Australia.

The man is expected to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court, charged as a result of an investigation by the Australian Federal Police Southern Command Human Trafficking Team.

The AFP launched Operation Kabru over allegations the man tried to cancel his then-wife’s Australian visa without her knowledge in 2014 and left her stranded overseas.

As a result of an extensive investigation, AFP officers charged the man on 27 February (2022) with organising or facilitating the exit of another person, from Australia, by deception, contrary to section 271.2(1A) of the Criminal Code 1995 (Cth).

If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 12 years’ imprisonment.

AFP Acting Commander Ray Imbriano said exit trafficking can involve a person coercing, forcing or threatening another to leave Australia against their will.

“Exit trafficking is an insidious offence which is increasingly coming to the attention of the Australian Federal Police Human Trafficking Team. Exit trafficking is not often discussed, or even considered to be an issue in Australian society, however it does happen here,” he said.

“It is often unreported and victims in our communities are suffering in silence. 

“No one has the right to ‘cancel’ another person’s visa, including the visa sponsor. This type of behaviour is a Commonwealth offence and carries a potential 12-year jail term.”

AFP Acting Commander Ray Imbriano said victims could be fearful of reporting these crimes but the AFP was here to help them.

 “AFP investigators in our human trafficking teams work tirelessly to ensure the well-being of all victims who come forward and seek an escape. Their cases are handled with compassion and great care. There is a dedicated support program specifically tailored for victims of human trafficking offences. The AFP can refer victims for support under this program which is administered by the Australian Red Cross,” he said.

“Our partnerships across the sector, including with NGOs, are crucial in ensuring this often hidden crime comes to the surface, is talked about and the signs are understood. Without the community’s help, it’s very difficult for our investigators to take appropriate action and help victims of human trafficking.”

“With International Borders reopening we are expecting to see an increase in human trafficking referrals. We are asking the community to learn the signs and indicators of human trafficking and contact the AFP if they have any concerns. There is a strong focus within the AFP to educate the community about Human Trafficking offences and prevent people from becoming victims of exploitation.”

The AFP is the lead Australian investigative agency for all forms of human trafficking and modern slavery.

If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking, contact the AFP on 131 237.

Information and confidential advice is also available from the Australian Red Cross, by calling (03) 9345 1800 or visiting the Red Cross website. Further information can also be found at Mybluesky.com.au – Anti-Slavery Australia website.

For more information on human trafficking, including the signs a person may be at risk of being trafficked, visit Human trafficking | Australian Federal Police (afp.gov.au).

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