Vancouver pair allegedly forced woman into servitude
Bethany Lindsay, ctvbc.ca
Published Wednesday, June 8, 2011 3:08PM PDT
A Vancouver couple has been charged with illegally smuggling a Filipino woman into the country and then forcing her to work for them as a domestic servant and nanny.
Police say Oi Ling Nicole Huen and Franco Yiu Kwan Orr moved with their children from Hong Kong to Vancouver in 2008, bringing their employee along with them on a visitor's visa. When her visa expired, the couple allegedly confiscated her passport.
"The woman was forced into domestic servitude and was working 24 hours a day, allegedly seven days a week, caring for the family," Vancouver Police Const. Jana McGuinness told reporters.
The woman, now 38, was afraid of being deported and didn't report the situation to authorities, according to police. She was being paid for her services, although McGuinness wasn't able to say how much.
Police were only alerted to the woman's alleged situation when they were called to the family's home in the 3100-block of Grant Street for an unrelated call last year.
"We realized this woman was in the country illegally," McGuinness said.
After almost a year of investigation by the Vancouver Police Department's vice unit, investigators secured Immigration and Refugee Protection Act charges against Huen and Orr.
They have both been charged with organizing illegal entry into Canada and organizing entry into Canada by illegal means and are scheduled to appear in court on June 22.
The victim remains in Canada, where she has been granted legal status.
Police say cases like this are rare.
"It's one of the first we've seen of its kind," McGuinness said.
But the case does closely parallel another recent investigation in West Vancouver.
Fifty-five-year-old Mumtaz Ladha was charged last month with human trafficking and smuggling after she allegedly lured a 21-year-old woman into the country with promises of a job at a hair salon.
Police say the victim, a native of Africa, was forced to perform unpaid labour for Ladha 18 hours a day, seven days a week.
Ladha has yet to be arrested, and police believe she may be outside of the country.