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Woman charged with controlling prostitution

A 57-year-old woman appeared in court in Northern Ireland today charged with controlling prostitution.

Sook Cheng Wong, from Tate's Avenue in south Belfast, was remanded in custody after two women, at least one from China, were rescued by police in the greater Belfast area.

Officers swooped in a pre-planned operation within the last two days. They also seized £25,000 in cash and documents.

A 46-year-old woman facing a similar prostitution charge as well as money laundering will appear before the same Belfast Magistrates' Court on December 23.

Ms Wong, who used an interpreter, was remanded in custody for a week following the brief appearance.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland said yseterday that two women had been taken to safety by police following a planned operation in the greater Belfast area in the last 24 hours.

The women, both described as vulnerable, were being given help and support by the PSNI.

Police also seized £25,000 in cash and documents during the operation.

Amnesty International director Patrick Corrigan said there was growing evidence that trafficking was more widespread than police had previously thought.

"We remain concerned that there remain many undiscovered victims of trafficking throughout Northern Ireland and that many victims of trafficking in Northern Ireland are not being properly identified," he said.

"At an official level, the fight against trafficking has been very much police-led in Northern Ireland, but we know that many victims of trafficking will never disclose their true situation to a police officer because they fear shame, deportation or reprisals from their traffickers.

"It is crucial that trafficking victims are not prosecuted for crimes, such as using false travel documents, or sent for deportation back to their country of origin, where they risk being recycled back into the hands of traffickers."

He said victims should be offered temporary residence permits and appropriate support so they have time to recover from their ordeal.

"It would be helpful if the PSNI and the Home Office provided clarification on what will now happen to these latest rescued victims of sex trafficking," he added.

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