Category Archives: Human Trafficking Articles

Dazed girl found in Dublin faked sex abuse stories

Dazed girl found in Dublin faked sexual abuse stories

Dazed girl found in Dublin faked sexual abuse stories

It was a tragic tale – orphaned at 14 and then abandoned in a foreign country by a relative who had sexually abused her.

Her name was Dakota Johnson. Her mother, a Dutch Magistrate, and her surgeon father had been killed in a car accident in Europe.

A Brisbane support service took her off the streets in 2010 and provided her with food and shelter.

She wanted to continue her private education and approached several Brisbane schools. All she had was a letter of introduction from the prestigious Swiss private school Le Rosey, a receipt from a bank on Lord Howe Island and a pink diary chronicling the sexual abuse at the hands of her uncle. One high school accepted her as a student.

“Dakota” told the schools and support service staff she had travelled with her European uncle to Australia via Lord Howe Island and he had left her stranded in NSW.

Concerned with her welfare, the Brisbane agency contacted police. Detectives interviewed her at length and found her claims did not add up.

A search of her belongings painted a different story. Detectives found photographs on her laptop of the girl with her family on top of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

Using the date the photograph was taken, police contacted the company which organised the bridge climbs and obtained detailed lists of participants.

The girl in the photo was not a sexually abused teenage orphan – she was a 22-year-old Sydney woman who at the time was wanted in Queensland and NSW for fraud-related matters.

The matters included her obtaining a Medicare card under a false name and using it in Rockhampton.

A further examination of her computer showed the letter of introduction from the Swiss school was fake and created on her laptop.

The bank receipt was also fake.

She was charged with four offences and appeared in the Brisbane Magistrates Court on September 14.

Police told 7News the woman allegedly convinced a police officer and the presiding magistrate that she was a teenager and her name was Dakota Johnson. Police said the charges were dismissed and she was arrested again. She fronted court the next day after Queensland police obtained a sworn affidavit from her father in NSW confirming her true identity and age.

Court records show she appeared on September 14 charged with one count each of contravening a direction and possess things with intent to forge documents, and two counts of false representation. The records show those charges were recorded as being dismissed with no evidence to offer. She is then listed as appearing on September 15 on the same charges. She was fined $500 and placed on twelve months recognizance.

A month later she was back before the Brisbane court on an additional four charges of false representation and was given the same penalty.

This week the woman was identified as the mystery girl who was found dazed and confused on the streets of Dublin on October 10.

She was apparently only able to communicate with Irish authorities through broken English and horrific drawings of her being raped by men who paid for her.

She could not tell them who she was or her country of origin.

Irish police initially suspected she was only 14 or 15, European and a victim of human trafficking.

She was taken into care by Ireland’s Health Service Executive because of her age and agitated state.

Hundreds of hours were racked up trying to identify her.

Following a month-long investigation, police took the unprecedented step of seeking permission from the Irish High Court under the Child Care Act to release a photograph of her.

Their application was granted and the photograph was released globally on Tuesday. Within hours there was a breakthrough from a man who told Irish police their mystery girl had family in Tipperary , the Irish Independent reported.

She was identified as a 25-year-old from Australia. Federal authorities here have been assisting Irish police.

A DNA sample was taken from her mother yesterday by West Australian police to help Irish authorities positively identify her.

She is no longer believed to be a victim of human trafficking, according to several media reports.

As revealed exclusively by 7News, the 25-year-old has in excess of 40 aliases and is known to police in several states. Police have found her with different forms of identification including a Dutch driver’s licence, medicare cards, a false passport, airline tickets and bank documents, under different names.

She has a pattern of claiming to be a teenage victim of sexual assault however she never reveals her true identity or that of her attackers to authorities. She was also listed as a missing person in Queensland in 2007.

The woman has some psychiatric and criminal history. She has convictions for fraud in Western Australia and Queensland.

Documents obtained by 7News reveal she has allegedly concocted grandiose schemes using false identities to trigger sympathy from people she comes into contact with or assistance from authorities.

Police describe her as someone who is convincing in assuming the identity and emotions of a teenager. She also constantly changes her appearance.

Earlier this year, using a false identity she posed as a 16-year-old private schoolgirl seeking accommodation from the Melbourne City Mission.

However her plans were short lived when staff checked with the school and found that had no students were enrolled under the name she had provided. She then sought help at a Melbourne hospital claiming to be a teenage victim of sexual assault using a fake name. The woman then claimed her parents gave her to a man they were in debt to and he and several others had raped her. She was later held in the hospital’s psychiatric unit. At one point she told staff she made up the claims about being raped to avoid doing housework.

Victorian police were unable to get to the bottom of her claims as she refused to give them details. 7News has learned that the Department of Human Services in Victoria is preparing advice for Australian Federal Police in relation to the Victorian investigation.

Police suspect the woman’s penchant for creating false identities and pretending to be a child victim of sexual assault is to access accommodation and money from government and community agencies.

Her complex web of tales also extends to social media networks.

On Facebook, police found she had set up a page under the name of Emily Sciberras, “gymnast ready to compete”. On the page’s biography, she claims she grew up in Geraldton, WA and at age 7, moved to Moscow to study gymnastics. The page has more than 4,000 likes and includes well wishes from fans and photographs of a gymnast in different competitions.

In 2011 she was in WA where befriended a teenage girl at a Perth TAFE. She introduced herself as Emily Azzopardi and had stayed overnight several times at the girl’s family home. During her stays she told her friend’s mother she had lived in Russia and had been the number one ranked under 16 gymnast. She told the woman she was also known as Emily Sciberras and around December 2011, claimed she was moving to France to help her grandparents run a home for troubled kids.

A month later she posted on Emily’s Facebook page that her family had died in an incident in France. She included a newspaper article a double murder-suicide in which a man killed his wife and 15-year-old daughter before taking his own life. The article said there was a surviving twin sister of the 15-year-old. The woman claimed she was the twin.

Police said the article prompted the WA family to contact “Emily” as they wanted to adopt her.

During the adoption process, “Emily” claimed to be living in the United States with a judge who specialized in adoptions. Police allege the woman assumed the identity of a Florida judge and created an email account to communicate and exchange paperwork with the WA family.

At one point last year, she met with the family in Sydney but told them she was too scared to return to WA because she had been raped in Perth.

Her scam unraveled when the family enrolled her at a WA school and the birth certificate she used under the name, Emily Azzopardi, proved to be fake.

The woman was arrested at the home of her adoptive family and WA police charged her with fraudulent offences. While in WA, police discovered she obtained a Medicare card and opened several bank accounts under the alias of Emily Azzopardi.

In October last year a Perth court sentenced her to a six-month prison term but it was suspended for 12 months. She was convicted of three counts each of defrauding by deceit in attempting to obtain benefits payments and opening an account with a cash dealer in a false name. She was also convicted of inducing a person to do an act he/she is lawfully entitled to abstain from.

Using her own photograph as a young schoolgirl. the woman has also created another Facebook page under the pseudonym of Emily-Ellen Sheahan

She has undergone psychiatric tests in Ireland and could be charged with wasting police time in an investigation that has cost around $500,000 or be deported back to Australia.

Members of her family are believed to be travelling to Ireland to assist authorities.

7News approached her father yesterday but he said he was too upset to speak at this stage.

Her cousin also declined to comment.

 

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Pope Francis begins fight against human trafficking and slavery

Children are common victims of forced slavery and trafficking.

Children are common victims of forced slavery and trafficking.

BY KERRI LENARTOWICK

ROME — Experts from around the world gathered at the Vatican this past weekend to investigate and discuss the growing practice of “modern slavery” in the form of human trafficking.

The preparatory workshop “Trafficking in Human Beings: Modern Slavery” was held Nov. 2-3.

Called at the request of Pope Francis, the conference was jointly hosted by the Pontifical Academy for the Sciences and the World Federation of the Catholic Medical Association.

Speaking at a Nov. 4 press briefing, Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, said that Pope Francis “had recommended” that this seminar be held.

Bishop Sorondo explained that, when Pope Francis was still archbishop of Buenos Aires, he had worked closely with those fighting human trafficking, and so “he knew the problem quite directly.”

On the morning of the first day of the conference, Pope Francis told Bishop Sorondo, “What is being done is very important, because this is valuable material, and I would like to do something with this.”

Human trafficking is a growing global phenomenon. A 2012 report by the United Nations points to International Labor Organization estimates that 20.9 million people were victims of forced labor globally between 2002-2011, although exact numbers are unknown.

The purpose of the recent Vatican workshop was to “examine human trafficking and modern slavery in order to establish the real state of this phenomenon and an agenda to combat this heinous crime,” according to a document issued by conference organizers.

Dr. Henrietta Williams, president of the Association of Catholic Medical Practitioners of Nigeria, was one of 18 experts invited to present at the study seminar.

She explained that the Pope’s desire was to “get together a group of experts in different disciplines,” because “it’s not a problem that one country or the lawyers or the doctors or the social scientists can solve.”

“It’s a problem that everyone has to come together (on),” Williams said, “preferably from all the faiths, all the government institutions, and we want to find out exactly what it is, why it cannot be controlled, why it is getting worse, what are the factors that promote trafficking.”

Juan Jose Llach, director of the Center for Studies on Government, Business, Society and Economy in Buenos Aires, Argentina, also spoke about the conference’s discussion of the many “new forms” of human trafficking, which are “expanding to involve children and adolescents.” He said participants had looked at the many risk factors for trafficking, including poverty, lack of education, disintegrated families and weak or corrupt law enforcement.

However, the many problems with trafficking were not only considered. Experts and practitioners in fields such as law, medicine and sociology offered practical solutions they had found to be successful in their own work.

Detective Inspector Kevin Hyland of the London Metropolitan Police, for example, spoke of a new program in place at Scotland Yard that works with victims of trafficking over a period of time, helping enable them to testify in court.

Since the program has been in place, “the number of guilty pleas is on the rise,” because many criminals do not want to face such testimony by their victims.

Upon the close of the weekend, conference organizers issued a “joint statement based on the suggestions presented by the participants,” which included proposals for media, religious institutions, civil organizations and business sectors to work together in order to combat human trafficking.

Organizers hope to eventually issue a statement that includes more specific proposals. Bishop Sorondro indicated that he believes Pope Francis will act on this issue as well.

According to Williams, the first step “is to look at the problem very deeply,” in order to find solutions.

Egypt’s Chaos Fuels Africa’s Human Trafficking

Egypt’s political unrest has brought suffering not only to its own people but also to hundreds of African refugees. Their goal is Israel but many end up as hostages on the Sinai Peninsula.

Egypt’s political unrest has brought suffering not only to its own people but also to hundreds of African refugees.

By Adrian Kriesch / cm

Kahassay Woldesselasie simply wanted to get away from Eritrea. He planned to begin a new life in a country where citizens are not as brutally suppressed as in his East African homeland. Eritrea, located in the Horn of Africa, is one of the world’s most secretive and repressive regimes.

Woldesselasie initially fled to neighboring Sudan. While there he heard rumors of good jobs being offered in Israel. A human trafficking syndicate offered to take him there. Woldesselasie agreed and fell into their trap. The traffickers abducted him and took him as a hostage to the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula.

On the journey they blindfolded him, there was little food and water. The gangsters threatened to kill him if he did not pay ransom. “You have no choice but to call your relatives,” Woldesselasie told DW in an interview. “If they agree to pay, you might be lucky. But if they don’t, you’re dead.”

The lucky and the unlucky

Israel refers to asylum seekers from Africa as ‘infiltrators’

Woldesselasie was one of the lucky ones. Family members living abroad agreed to pay for his release.

He was set free and finally managed to cross the border into Israel.

Not many are as lucky as Woldesselasie, says Hamdy al-Azazy, an Egyptian human rights activist who lives in al-Arish, the capital of the North Sinai region. He has met Eritrean refugees who had been held captive for weeks in torture camps.

While their families are listening over the phone, the victims would be subjected to burnings or have their limbs broken. Such painful experiences would then push even the poorest of families to send money. Those who don’t comply risk having their relatives being buried in the desert. According to al-Azazy, more than 500 remains of dead bodies of Africans were discovered in the desert in the past years.

The Sinai equation

The Sinai Peninsula has long been a powder keg. The indigenous population consists of Bedouin Arab tribes who settled there several hundred years ago. Today, they only represent about half of the approximately 500,000 inhabitants.

Israel withdrew from the area back in 1982 and left it to the Egyptian state. Egypt then took the best land from the Bedouins, says Günter Meyer, director of the Center for Research on the Arab World at the University of Mainz. “This goes back to a long period of discrimination against the Bedouin population.” According to Meyer, the Bedouins were seen by Egyptians as Israeli collaborators, drug smugglers and illiterate.”

Meyer however emphasizes that only a small minority of the Bedouin is involved in the criminal gangs that deal in human trafficking.

Several men who are refugees in the Sinai are seated on the ground .

According to Human Rights Watch over 1,500 Eritreans flee the country every month. Several men who are refugees in the Sinai are seated on the ground .

Following the Arab Spring which began in 2011, security forces have been weakened in the Sinai Peninsula giving the traffickers more leeway. The situation has “escalated dramatically,” Meyer warns.

There are no known figures for the number of refugees detained in torture camps in the Sinai or how many of those hostages have perished. According to the Israeli government, more than 10,000 illegal immigrants crossed the Sinai border into Israel in 2012. Most of them came from Eritrea and Sudan. But in Israel, a nation once founded by immigrants, the refugees are not welcome. They have little chance of obtaining political asylum. Instead Israel has built a more than 200-kilometer – long (124 miles) fence against them. In the first five months of 2013, only 33 refugees managed to cross the border.

Little international support

The world, including the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR), has turned a deaf ear to the plight of these refugees, says human rights activist Hamdy al-Azazy. “They write their reports from their air-conditioned offices in Cairo,” he laments.

“Nobody is on site to assess the real situation. I’m the only one here in the midst of all these dangers.” There have been several attacks on him, he adds.

His office was ransacked, his children have been attacked.

The few meager belongings of a refugee lie scattered around the area of the park which he has made his home.Ashley Gallagher, Tel Aviv May 2013via: DW/ Robert Mudge

African asylum seekers meet with harsh reality in Israel. The few meager belongings of a refugee lie scattered around the area of the park which he has made his home.Ashley Gallagher, Tel Aviv May 2013via: DW/ Robert Mudge,

Al-Azazy also raises serious allegations against the Egyptian security forces. According to him victims who manage to escape from the hands of the traffickers are detained as criminals because they are in the country illegally. But the perpetrators of human trafficking enjoy a life of luxury in large villas. He believes the traffickers are supported by Egypt’s security agencies.

“Traffickers pay a lot of bribes so that they can freely bring refugees to the Sinai.”

Kahassay Woldesselasie does not feel at home in Israel. He hopes that one day peace and freedom will reign in his East African nation so he can return.

25 Children in Lagos Rescued from Human Trafficker

Officials of the Lagos State Government have rescued 25 children from a suspected child trafficker at Egbeda area of Lagos, southwest Nigeria.

A suspected human trafficker, Mrs. Rosemary Nwachukwu, has been arrested by officials of the Lagos State government, following a tip-off that she uses her orphanage to engage in the act.

Nwachukwu is said to operate an illegal orphanage by the name Saint Stephen Charity Foundation, a home for orphans and less privileged located at 30/32 Abiodun Adebanbo Street, Egbeda.

Officials of the Office of Youth and Social Department led by the Director, Child Development, Mrs Alaba Fadairo and officers from the Office of Public Defender, OPD, backed by policemen stormed the illegal orphanage home and rescued the children.

The age of the children range between three months and 12 years. They comprise three infants aged 3-6 months and 22 other children.

According to the Director, OPD, Mrs Omotola Rotimi, it was discovered upon investigation that Nwachukwu trafficked 27 children who were kept in a room.

Raimi said the woman allegedly used the children to raise money and defraud innocent members of the public who needed to adopt children, adding that 25 children were rescued while the whereabouts of the remaining two were unknown.

According to Fadairo, the Director, Child Development, the illegal business was being conducted in a room in the residential building, saying that upon investigation, it was discovered Nwachkwu had been engaging in various anti-child development activities, such as illegal adoption, trafficking and others which she said, were carried out with selfish reasons.

Nwachukwu said she has been running the orphanage for the past 18 years, and that it was purely on charity basis. She denied the allegations levelled against her.

“Investigation also shows that there are no records on each of the children and no evidence of how the children got to her home and no form of police or security report,” she explained.

Fadairo warned members of the public to be vigilant and report such cases of child trafficking to the media or the government for necessary action.

She stated people and organizations that operated unapproved or illegal orphanages would be arrested and prosecuted for human trafficking.

The suspect, Nwachukwu said she had been running the illegal orphanage home for the past 18 years and that it was purely on charity basis, denying that she trafficked in children.

Residents in the area said they never knew such orphanage home existed, while the police are still investigating the issue.

The OPD has vowed to charge the alleged culprit to court after investigation had been concluded as the Deputy Governor of Lagos, Mrs. Adejoke Orelope-Adefulire is very much interested in the case.

—Kazeem Ugbodaga

UK Anti-Slavery Law to Target Human Traffickers

Home secretary Theresa May aims to consolidate and toughen existing legislation and counter ‘shockingly low’ prosecution rates

Theresa May

May: ‘Vulnerable people are trafficked into Britain every day as modern-day slaves. We can and we will eliminate it’ (Reuters)

, political correspondent

A “modern slavery” bill that tightens the laws on human trafficking will be introduced in a bid to help to eradicate an “evil in our midst”, Theresa May has announced.

The home secretary said that prosecution rates for human trafficking were still shockingly low across Europe and that an overhaul of the law was needed because there was still some uncertainty over which agencies should be tackling the problem.

The bill, which will be introduced before the current session of parliament ends next spring, will consolidate existing anti-trafficking legislation in one place as well as toughening it.

New trafficking prevention orders, modelled on sexual offence prevention orders, will be introduced, allowing the courts to impose restrictions on the ability of offenders to own a company, visit certain areas or work with women or young children after their release. May believes these are necessary because people convicted of trafficking often return to the trade after their release from jail.

A “modern slavery commissioner” will be appointed to ensure that the government and law enforcement agencies are tackling the problem vigorously.

It is also possible that the bill could establish new classes of crime aggravated by a link to human trafficking. This would allow higher penalties to be imposed for offences involving, for example, drugs or prostitution, if they were part of a trafficking operation.

Writing in the Sunday Times, May said that she wanted the new National Crime Agency (NCA), and all police forces in England and Wales, to make the issue a top priority.

“It is scarcely believable that there is slavery in Britain, yet the harsh reality is that in 2013 there are people in this country forced to exist in appalling conditions and often against their will,” she wrote.

“The criminals who exploit, bully and threaten them often inflict violence mercilessly. They are careful to ensure their victims have no rights. Those victims are, to all intents and purposes, slaves.”

May said that, although the NCA was being told to focus on the issue, “as things stand, the law and the institutions we have for implementing these changes and sharpening our response make the NCA’s task more difficult than it ought to be”.

She said: “For too long modern slavery has been seen as someone else’s problem. Some believe it is an illegal immigration problem, others that it should be tackled through victim support, but most importantly many don’t see it for what it is.

“So let me tell you what I believe it to be. It is a horrendous crime, it has got to stop and it is everyone’s problem.”

May also explained why she was introducing trafficking prevention orders.

“At present, someone who is convicted of involvement in trafficking will receive a sentence of perhaps two years. They will usually be out of jail within a year, and they will often go straight back to the business of smuggling people into this country so they can be made into slaves.

“Trafficking prevention orders will ensure that someone released from a sentence for a human trafficking offence cannot simply go back to being a gangmaster. They will also place restrictions on the convicted individual’s ability to own a company, or to visit specific premises and areas or to work with children or young women.”

She also said that she would like companies to make an explicit commitment not to use suppliers reliant on slave labor.

 

 

Interpol arrests dozens of human trafficking suspects in Africa

At least 38 suspects of human trafficking have been arrested in Ethiopia, 28 human trafficking victims rescued and 15 suspects arrested in Uganda in an Interpol- backed security operations in eastern and southern Africa.

A statement issued by the global police agency said the operation which targeted human, drugs and arms traffickers also resulted in the identification of hundreds of illegal immigrants.

AK-47s were among the guns recovered in Tanzania and Uganda with weapons also seized in Burundi and Swaziland,” Francis Rwego, head of Interpol’s Regional Bureau in Nairobi, said. The operation codenamed Usalama (safety) was led by the Eastern Africa Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (EAPCCO) and the Southern African Regional Police Chiefs Cooperation Organization (SARPCCO) with support from Interpol.

Rwego said thousands of checks against Interpol’s stolen vehicle database resulted in a series of matches for vehicles reported stolen from countries including Japan, Malaysia, South Africa and Britain.

The operation resulted in the recovery of 12 elephant tusks in Mozambique and Tanzania and the arrest of a woman in possession of six kg of heroin at Nairobi’s international airport.

According to the statement, the operation led to the destruction of some 100 acres of cannabis plantations in South Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda, and the identification of a suspected diamond smuggler in Botswana.

My experience as a police chief is that ultimately every crime is transnational and cross-border in nature. This calls for the need to work together more than ever to solve national and transnational crimes,” said General Kale Kayihura, Inspector General of Police and Chairperson of EAPCCO.

The success of operation Usalama shows that we can and must work together, not only at EAPCCO/SARPCCO regional level, but also at pan-African level if we are to succeed,” Kayihura added.

Refugee rights organizations and aid agencies have blamed poverty in Africa for the rising cases of human trafficking. They said that the huge supply of labor both skilled and unskilled makes them vulnerable to criminal syndicates.

According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM), up to 20,000 Somali and Ethiopian immigrants are smuggled into Kenya annually with the South Africa as their final destination.

However, globally approximately 600,000 to 800,000 persons are trafficked annually with 80 percent of victims being female.

Refugee Consortium of Kenya (RCK) Information Officer Andrew Maina said recently that studies indicate that at least 50 girls between the age of 10 and 15 every week are sold to serve as sex workers in the main towns of Kenya.

The crime is prevalent in all regions of the country but poor parents are known to coerce their children into prostitution. The situation is further exacerbated in northern Kenya by the frequent drought that increases the presence of cheap labor.

The victims normally have no access freedom of movement as well as any other fundamental rights.

Supported by Interpol’s Regional Bureaus in Nairobi and Harare, a series of pre-operational briefings were held to share intelligence on national and regional crime issues, identify trends and provide training on Interpol’s global tools and services used during the three-day (July16-18) operation.

Rwego said the operation Usalama was a strong, coordinated response from law enforcement to tackle the serious challenges posed by transnational crimes in Eastern and Southern Africa.

Hundreds of human trafficking victims have been saved, drugs and guns taken off the streets and serious criminals arrested through this operation, made possible through the leadership of EAPCCO and SARPCCO,” Rwego said.

Inspector General of Tanzania Police and SARPCCO Chairperson Saidi Ally Mwema said the unique joint Operation Usalama was a clear success with its impact shown by the results.

Mwema said the operation brought together law enforcement officials from customs, immigration and the Tanzania Intelligence Security Service with the police as the lead agency.

We can look forward to repeating operations of this nature in the future which show that together as regions we can combat crime even more effectively,” he added.

Investigations are continuing with updated results to be reported during the forthcoming EAPCCO and SARPCCO meetings.

Among the participating EAPCCO member countries are Burundi, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Rwanda, Seychelles, South Sudan, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda.

Participating SARPCCO member countries include Botswana, Malawi, Mauritius, Mozambique, Swaziland, Tanzania and Zambia.

Chilika Simfukwe, head of Interpol’s Regional Bureau in Harare, said the dedication of all the law enforcement officers who took part in Operation Usalama led to its success and demonstrates the effectiveness of national and regional cooperation.

Interpol stands ready to provide its continued assistance and support to law enforcement across the region and beyond,” Simfukwe said.