Police charge diplomat with human trafficking

Ottawa Police have laid human trafficking charges against a married couple from the Philippines who had diplomatic immunity in Canada.

Police say the 44-year-old wife was working at the Filipino embassy at the time of the incident. She had a low-ranking position.

Insp. Paul Johnston told CFRA the woman had been brought to Canada to work as a nanny and her passport had been taken away.

"Part of the investigation determined her work hours - she was basically working every day and her rate of pay would have been less than a dollar an hour," he said. "Working every day under the conditions that she was working is certainly not what we support or the conditions that here in Canada, we accept."

The woman, worked in a private residence protected by diplomatic immunity from July 2009 until December 2013.

"There were some language barriers," said Johnston. "She's in a country that she doesn't know anybody, where her contact was controlled and limited and she's a foreign area and she's not allowed to leave. She didn't have an opportunity to realize the conditions that she was in until finally she did have some conversations with some other people, which led to the investigation itself."

Johnston said she was able to leave on her free will once police came it to assist.

He said the victim is now doing much better.

"The victim is safe, remains in Canada and thanks to our victims crisis unit and some of the NGO's (non-governmental organizations) in our area have been able to provide a lot of support to the victim," said Johnston. "The only unfortunate part about this is the victim won't be able to see justice served."

He said that's because the accused handed in their diplomatic identity cards to the Department of Foreign Affairs and fled the country after learning of the police investigation.

Bueneflor and Robert Cruz are charged with trafficking a person by exercising control, financial/material benefit and withholding or destroying identification documents.

Robert Cruz, 45, faces additional charges of uttering threats to cause bodily harm and mischief under $5,000/

There is a Canada-wide warrant out for their arrest, however Johnston said unless they return to Canadian soil it is likely they will never be brought before a judge.

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