9 alleged human trafficking victims still in Vanuatu

Photo: VPF Media

Nine of the 101 Bangladeshis who are alleged victims of human trafficking are still in Vanuatu. Seven of them left this week. According to the Vanuatu Police Force (VPF) update on the case, the trial for the human trafficking case continues this week. The case is considered as the first human trafficking case for Vanuatu and the biggest ever in the region. The victims came to Vanuatu in groupings — the last arrived on September 28, 2018.

Upon arrival in Vanuatu, they were accommodated in five locations: Pango, Elluk, Tasiriki, Town House and Nabo.

In October 2018, they lodged an official complaint against four suspects whom were subsequently arrested.

According to the statement, one of the two main suspects holds a Zimbabwean passport, the other a Mauritius passport as well as Bangladesh passports.

The 101 victims submitted their statements with the TCU Investigation Team last year. 26 of the victims were identified by the Public Prosecutors Office as possible witnesses for the case, and to proceed with the trial while 75 of them had to returned home.

As the trial continues, the 26 victims slowly return home in groupings. Five left on December 11, 2019, six later on December 18 and another seven just recently on January 8, 2020.

Agencies that assist TCU Investigation Team with the investigation were Immigration, Labour, VIPA, Customs, VFSC and FIU. The four suspects were charged with human trafficking, slavery, money laundering and threatening.

The government, through the Ministry of Internal Affairs funded their accommodation, food and medications assisted by the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) while they were stranded in Vanuatu.

IOM also helped to facilitate their traveling back to Bangladesh.

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