Australia Needs More Teeth to Clamp Down on Subtle Forms of Slavery

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By Erik Pineda | May 31, 2012 12:05 PM EST

Slavery, according to the Australian government, remains thriving in many corners of the world and the country has its share of the problem in the form of arranged marriage, human organ trafficking and forced prostitution.

"Tragically, nineteenth century slavery has not been abolished ... it has simply taken other forms," Attorney-General told the Parliament on Wednesday in introducing a new bill that would criminalise specific practices that were tantamount to forced labour and exploitation.

"Australia is not immune to these diabolical practices," Ms Roxon was quoted by Agence France Presse (AFP) as saying in emphasising the importance of the new legislation that federal authorities hope would stamp out the illegal activities surrounding human trafficking.

If passed by the Parliament, the new laws will push Australia into the global fight against slavery, which Ms Roxon said has affected the lives of millions the world over.

Her proposal would upgrade the country's legislative tool against some form of slavery, which in the country was mainly focused on clamping down on prostitution rings that target Asian women for their brothel operations.

"A common factor of contemporary slavery and trafficking, from forced labour and forced marriage to organ trafficking, is the misuse and abuse of power," Ms Roxon was reported by The Associated Press (AP) as saying.

"And such an abuse has no place here," the Attorney-General declared.

The proposed laws will give helpless individuals sufficient protection under the Australian justice, Mr Roxon added, as "these new laws will criminalise forced marriage, with criminal penalties reaching up to seven years in jail."

The new measures will also strictly prohibit the practice of forced labour within the country's legal jurisdiction and violators "will attract criminal penalties of up to 12 years in jail," she added.

Also, organ trafficking will be met by severe penalty of 25 years behind bars if the Parliament would extend its nod to the proposed legislation, which has yet to be calendared by House of Representatives for debate.

Ms Roxon is convinced that the government bill would not drive slavery further underground, noting that the practice was already hidden in elaborate schemes designed by criminal organisations profiting from the various forms of human trafficking.

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