31 May 2011

Tongan crown counsel says first conviction for human trafficking significant

3:11 pm on 31 May 2011

A crown prosecutor in Tonga is hoping the ten-year jail sentence give to the country's first human trafficking convict will act as a deterrent.

A Chinese woman, Lirong Liu, was last month found guilty on four counts of trafficking persons into Tonga, one for keeping a brothel and two counts for trading in prostitution, and was sentenced on Monday.

A crown counsel, James Lutui, believes the sentence sends a strong message to others involved in the illegal trade and hopes people will think twice upon hearing the result.

"Obviously it will have a deterrent effect on others who may be currently doing it or may think of comitting such crimes in the future. It has a very good deterrent effect and the sentence says that ten years imprisonment - it's very substantial."

James Lutui says the case will be used as a precedent for future cases and hopes it will encourage victims of human trafficking to come forward to police.