Man Charged With Trafficking His Wife and Child in Australia
Pardeep Lohan's wife contacted authorities, saying she was forced to travel to India without her consent.
An Australian man of Indian origin is facing charges of human trafficking, general dishonesty and document forgery for allegedly trafficking his wife and their two-month-old daughter from Sydney to India.
Pardeep Lohan, 27, from Lidcombe in Sydney west, allegedly used threats, coercion and deception to force his India-born wife and Australia-born child to travel to India in March this year. Detectives from Australian Federal Police (AFP) Human Trafficking Team started looking into the case in May after they received a tip-off from a non-government organization Anti-slavery Australia.
The woman “feared she was being forced to travel to India without her consent,” according to Detective Superintendent Dan Evans, the coordinator of AFP’s Victim Based Crime Command, Sydney Morning Herald reported.
“Once she was overseas, the suspect in this case contacted the Department of Immigration to attempt to have the victims’ visa application cancelled,” the publication quoted him as saying. Lohan is also accused removing the infant’s passport so she could not return to Australia.
Lohan’s wife returned to Australia in May before her visa expired but was unable to get her daughter with her. She then contacted Anti-slavery Australia who put her in touch with AFP’s Human Trafficking Team. The team worked to get the two-month-old girl back in the country.
The court documents show that Lohan used a false withdrawal of visa application form (Department of Immigration form 1446) “to induce a commonwealth public official to accept it as genuine and dishonestly influence the exercise of a public duty or function.”
Detective Evans did not comment on the motive for the crime. The woman and her baby are now in Australia and are being taken care of under the government’s Support for Trafficked People program.
“This is a reminder that forcing someone to leave Australia using coercion, threats of deception is an offence under our laws, and strict Commonwealth trafficking offences may apply,” Evans said.
Lohan was arrested in November and has been charged with one count of trafficking persons (exit from Australia), which holds a maximum penalty of 12 years imprisonment, one count of general dishonesty and one count of using a forged document, which carry maximum penalties of 10 and five years imprisonment, respectively.
On Dec. 5, he appeared before the Downing Centre Legal court where he was advised that the charges against him are serious. He was told to get legal representation. “My wife asked me to book tickets for her to go overseas. Now she is saying I forced her to go,” he was reported to have told the court.
Lohan’s case was adjourned until Dec. 19, and he is currently out on bail.
Human trafficking in Australia is often under-reported, making it hard to estimate the scale of the problem. Investigators have received 150 referrals in relation to human trafficking for a range of cases such as forced labor, forced marriage and sexual servitude in the past financial year.