A couple from Melbourne, Chee Kit Chong (44) and Angie Yeh Ling Liaw (29), appeared in court today on charges related to modern-day slavery. The allegations involve keeping a woman as a slave in their Point Cook residence.
The couple is accused of exercising coercive control, limiting the woman’s movements, and physically assaulting her over a period of 10 months from January to October 2022.
Chong and Liaw have been charged with possessing a slave, using coercion and threats to force the victim into servitude, and exercising control over a slave.
The Australian Federal Police initiated a raid on the property in October last year following a tip-off from a healthcare worker who suspected signs of human trafficking.
During their court appearance via video link, Liaw was represented by Payne Wu from Hiways Lawyers, who indicated that the firm might also provide representation for Chong pending confirmation of no conflicts of interest.
The case was adjourned until mid-June to allow Chong to secure legal representation. A committal hearing is expected to take place in September or October, potentially involving witnesses such as hospital and medical staff.
Increase in Reports of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking
According to the Australian Federal Police (AFP), there has been a noticeable rise in reports concerning modern slavery and human trafficking. In the financial year of 2021-22, they recorded 294 reports, an increase from the previous year’s 224.
If found guilty, those involved could face a maximum prison sentence of 25 years. Detective Superintendent Simone Butcher emphasized that the AFP actively promotes education among first responders, healthcare professionals, and the community at large. Their aim is to equip individuals with the ability to identify signs of human trafficking and slavery.
Detective Superintendent Simone Butcher stated, “Everyone has a part to play in combating human trafficking. We urge anyone who suspects human trafficking or notices anything suspicious to report it.” She further emphasized, “Without the support of the community, victims may remain unnoticed, preventing us from offering them the necessary assistance and support.”
If you or someone you know is a victim of human trafficking or slavery, you can report the incident to the AFP by calling 131 AFP (131 237).