Wednesday, March 31, 2021

The disturbing Sydney airport CCTV footage that led to human trafficking conviction

The reality of human trafficking has been captured in disturbing CCTV footage taken at Sydney Airport as a woman clings to her child in fear.

The footage, released by Australian Federal Police to raise awareness of human trafficking crimes in Australia, shows a visibly distressed woman having an argument with a man in the departures area of Sydney International Airport.

The footage would go on to form part of the AFP’s Operation Eastwater, which was launched in 2017 and culminated in January in the first conviction for an exit human trafficking offence in Australia.

A Sydney man, a 29-year-old from Lidcombe, was sentenced to 21 months in prison when he faced the NSW District Court on January 21.

He was found guilty of using threats and deception to force the woman and child to return to India.

Operation Eastwater began when victim support and advocacy service Anti-Slavery Australia alerted the AFP that the woman had been forced to India against her will.

The man had purchased a one-way ticket for the woman to travel from Sydney to India in March 2017, police facts tendered in court revealed.

The woman told police she feared for her life and was threatened with murder if she did not comply with the man’s request.

After she had departed for India, the man contacted Australian immigration authorities, gave false information and adopted the identity of the woman in a bid to revoke her legal visa status to try and prevent her from returning to Australia.

However, the woman managed to get to Australia two months later and contacted Anti-Slavery Australia - a step police have described as incredibly brave.

The matter was referred to the AFP’s Human Trafficking team for further investigation.

The AFP executed a search warrant at the man’s Lidcombe home in September 2017 and served him with a court attendance notice.

Two months later, police arrested him at Sydney International Airport trying to board a flight to Bangkok, Thailand.

30/03/21 Pip Christmass/

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