In 2006 a Melbourne brothel owner, Wei Tang, was convicted of enslaving five Thai women.
She was the first person to be convicted under anti-slavery laws introduced in 1999 and was sentenced to 10 years’ jail.
The Victorian Court of Appeal quashed the convictions and ordered a new trial.
The Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions appealed against the quashing to the High Court.
Today, the High Court upheld the slavery convictions of the brothel owner and overturned the orders for a new trial.
The Court held that the Federal Parliament had the power to make laws as part of its obligations under the international slavery convention and found there was enough evidence provided during the trial of Wei Tang to meet the definition of slavery.
Kathleen Maltzahn of Project Respect, says hundreds of women are trafficked to Australia each year and enslaved for prostitution.
“A whole lot of cases that have been banked up waiting for this to go ahead, can proceed with a very clear legal framework,” she said.
“We know what slavery is now. And this will present a great deal of confidence and surety when people are trying to prosecute for this.”
See the report of the decision, The Queen v Tang, here
Thanks to Stephen