Wednesday, May 7, 2003

Ruddock says no growing sex slavery trade in Australia

CANBERRA — Immigration Minister Philip Ruddock tonight rejected claims there was a growing sex slave trade in Australia, saying instead there was only a growing interest in the matter. But Mr Ruddock said government agencies were searching for evidence to see if there was a system of trafficking foreigners into the country to work as illegal prostitutes.,/P>

He said Justice Minister Chris Ellison had asked the Australian Crime Commission to gather intelligence regarding sex slavery to see if there was any justification for an inquiry into the issue.

Asked on ABC Television if trafficking of women and girls being brought into Australia for the sex trade had increased, Mr Ruddock replied: "No, I admit that there is growing interest in the matter and people are anxious to ensure that it is effectively dealt with".

He said the Immigration Department had found about 149 illegal immigrants working in the sex industry. "Amongst that group of people we have found very few, when questioned, who have evidenced a possible slavery or servitude issue, or even a trafficking issue," Mr Ruddock said. "But we are seriously looking to obtain evidence to enable those matters to be pursued."

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Created: January 9, 2004
Last modified: January 15, 2004
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