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The Globe and Mail

Philippine diplomats in Ottawa face human-trafficking charges

Police tape marks a crime scene in this file photo.

JOHN LEHMANN/The GLOB

Ottawa police have levelled human trafficking charges against a diplomatic couple from the Philippines in connection with a woman they brought to Canada to work as a nanny.

Police asked the Department of Foreign Affairs to issue a waiver of diplomatic immunity last month, only to be told on May 5 that the two had surrendered their identity cards and returned to the Philippines.

The case involves a 26-year-old woman who was brought into Canada legally as a domestic worker.

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Police allege the couple exploited the woman for financial and material benefits and held her by withholding or destroying her documents.

Bueneflor Cruz, 44, and Robert Cruz, 45, are both charged with trafficking, obtaining a benefit by trafficking and withholding or destroying documents. Robert Cruz is also charged with threatening bodily harm and mischief.

Police say the victim remains in Canada but has been moved to a safe location.

The investigation began in December in response to third-party allegations that the woman was being exploited, police said in a release.

"The Ottawa police will continue to thoroughly investigate any complaints of human trafficking," said Inspector Paul Johnston.

"It is important to stress that help is available for the victims."

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