Macau turning blind eye on labour trafficking: report
The Macau authorities are still struggling to tackle labour trafficking and help the victims, the U.S. State Department’s ‘Trafficking in Persons Report 2013’ said.
The few labour trafficking cases identified last year were treated as worker disputes and the victims were simply sent packing, the report released on Wednesday U.S. time says.
There were cases of labour trafficking involving 18 mainland Chinese who were disputing their work conditions but they were prosecuted “under worker protection laws,” the U.S. department wrote.
The authorities repatriated the mainland victims “without offering them victim services,” it added.
Macau has a policy offering victims legal alternatives to repatriation.
But “no trafficking victims received such immigration relief after legal proceedings; trafficking victims were repatriated without an option to stay,” the report says.
The U.S. State Department advised Macau to “inspect for evidence of forced labour and appropriately prosecute cases as labour trafficking offences”.
The report does praise the city’s decision to eliminate “a requirement that foreign workers who are fired or quit a job wait six months before obtaining a new position”.
The U.S. State Department said “this waiting period previously made migrants vulnerable to forced labour”.
However, the information is not correct. The rule was never eliminated, although it underwent some minor changes, enacted last April.
The territory has increased its efforts against sex trafficking, namely by hiring five more prosecutors and training more prosecutors and judges, the report says.
There were “tangible results,” the U.S. State Department wrote, with more investigations launched and nine offenders convicted in one case of forced prostitution.
In that same case 17 women “were not protected as victims” because the court ruled they had voluntarily associated with the defendants.
Cooperation with mainland China and Hong Kong improved but the government from another unnamed “trafficking source country reported a lack of cooperation,” the document adds.
In addition, there were no investigations or prosecutions over child sex tourism, even though “at least” one suspected case of child prostitution in an American-owned casino has been reported.