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Rachel Diaz [AUS]
CASE INFORMATION
NAME: Rachel Ann Diaz
AGE: 17 [at 2005]
ORIGIN: Australia
ARRESTED: April 2005
SENTENCE: 10 years, 8 months
OFFENCES: Drug Trafficking 700 grams of heroin.
RELEASE: 2016
Consular Enquiries: Australian Consulate23/F, Harbour Centre,25 Harbour Road,Wan Chai, Hong KongTelephone: (852) 2827 8881
Legal Enquiries:
Melville Boase (Lawyer)

mtcboase@boasecohencollins.com

IMPORTANT NOTICE
The family wishes to advise that for privacy reasons only family and close friends are permitted to write and/or visit Rachel.

If you would like to offer any support to the family then you may write via following address;

The Diaz Family
P.O Box 158
Panania NSW 2213
Australia

MEDIA CONTACTS
Martin Hodgson
FPSS Senior Advocate
martin.hodgson@foreignprisoners.com
[24 hour response]
Kay Danes
FPSS Family Advocate
kaydanes@foreignprisoners.com
[24 hour response]
www.foreignprisoners.com
We support the rehabilitation of prisoners!
Hong Kong court to rule on fate of teenage drug couriers
Case History
Rachel Diaz told her parents she was going to a girlfriend's for a sleepover. Secretly, on April 5, 2005 the Sydney teenager flew out of Australia bound for Hong Kong. Nine days later police raided a cheap Kowloon hotel and arrested Diaz [then 17] and another Sydney teenager, Chris Vo [then 15].

Police found about 700 grams of heroin, worth $1 million in Sydney, and 114 condoms and cut-off fingers from rubber gloves when they raided the hotel. Prosecutors said the teenagers had been offered $200 for each packet of heroin they swallowed. Vo allegedly had agreed to swallow at least 20 packages but Diaz had apparently changed her mind and was backing out of the deal when police raided. Hutchison Tran, 21, admitted that he arranged for the two teenagers to act as drug couriers.

Mr. and Mrs. Diaz, hardworking churchgoing Filipino migrants, are believed to be struggling financially after using up the family's meagre savings flying to Hong Kong to support their daughter. The couple have two other children.

In a letter to Kay Danes, Advocate for the Foreign Prisoner Support Service, at the end of February, Diaz wrote: "Thank you so much again for your support. I really need it I still miss my family and I don't know I'm going to survive in here. I don't know if I can handle it being away from my family and I really hate it in here right now I feel helpless, sad and depressed even if I want to be happy I can't. All I can do is wait and hope for the best."
How Rachel's family took the news
Rachel's parents were notified of her arrest by a late night phone call from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade [DFAT].

Rachel's father, Ferdie, immediately flew to Hong Kong with only AU$150 dollars in his wallet. He took the fast train to a city in the area of Tsim Sa Tsui, hoping his journey would lead him to his young daughter. There he met with the Australian Consular officer, who explained the seriousness of Rachel's dilemma.

"The DFAT officer called the prison for me to ask for a visit. We then went to the prison that day. Consul took me there up to the gate and also bought me a train pass with $100 HK dollars credit. He was very helpful and understood my position" said Mr. Diaz.

Ferdie Diaz met with his daughter and naturally, it was an emotionally charged reunion.

"My eyes were full of tears as I just couldn't believe seeing my daughter behind bars and could not even touch or hug my own daughter. We could only talk on the speakerphone with a glass window between us. I was so helpless on that time as there was nothing I could do. The meeting lasted for just 15 minutes with both of us crying our hearts out. Afterwards I went straight to the Catholic Church in Central and just prayed all day' said Mr. Diaz.

A missionary group called the Filipino Women's Migrant Group are well known in Hong Kong for helping people in need. They gave shelter to Mr. Diaz over the coming weeks. If not for them, Ferdie says that he would have ended up in serious trouble, since he did not know that his initial lodgings were in a dangerous part of town.

On August 12, 2005, the Hong Kong Government provided a legal aid solicitor to represent Rachel Diaz. Melville T. C. Boase, an honors graduate of the Liverpool University, 1965 was appointed.

Of the two other Australians detained with Rachel Diaz, 15-year-old Chris Ha Vo [15] is alleged to have supported Rachel's claim that she had refused to transport the drugs back to Australia. Rachel's own statement to the court was that she was only in Hong Kong for shopping. However in recent developments, co-accused Chris Ha Vo [15] and Hutchinson Tran [21] from Australia have now changed their original plea from not guilty, to guilty. Rachel's Defence lawyer has requested from the South East Asian Crime Bureau [SEAC] a recorded telephone conversation that is allegedly in favour of Rachel's defence. Unfortunately, that information has not been provided.

On the 8th of December 2005, Ferdie Diaz contacted Advocate Kay Danes who had been writing numerous letters of support on behalf of the International Human rights Organisation - Foreign Prisoner Support Service.

'Good day to you, firstly I would like to thank you for your generosity and thoughts for my daughter. My wife and I were so happy to hear that at least someone in Australia does have concern towards our daughter' wrote Ferdie Diaz.

Mrs. Diaz, who suffers from a Pulmonary Embolism, is not fit for work but cares for the couple's other two children whose names are withheld for privacy reasons. The Foreign Prisoner Support Service actively campaigns to assist the Diaz Family. FPSS Advocate Martin Hodgson lobbies Australian Federal MP's for support.

'The added stress is not doing him [Ferdie], his wife or family any good' says Martin Hodgson. 'Hopefully over the next few weeks we [FPSS] will be able to make significant inroads in generating positive support and resources to this family.'

Adelaide Lawyer, Mr. Stephen Kenny also offered his legal advice and support.

Prisoner Transfer Agreement
Australia and Hong Kong sign prisoner transfer agreement


MP3 Audio Interview with F.P.S.S Advocate Kay Danes

Australia and Hong Kong have signed a bilateral treaty for the international transfer of prisoners between both countries, the Minister for Justice and Customs, Senator Chris Ellison, said today.

The International Transfer of Prisoners treaty with Hong Kong underlines Australia’s solid commitment to regional law enforcement cooperation and will allow prisoners to serve out their sentences in their home country, Senator Ellison said.

“Australia’s International Transfer of Prisoners scheme currently covers 58 jurisdictions, now including Hong Kong,” he said.

Hong Kong is the second regional jurisdiction with which Australia has concluded a bilateral agreement for the transfer of prisoners. Three prisoners have already been repatriated from Thailand under our bilateral treaty, which came into force in late 2002.

In total, 19 prisoners have been transferred since the International Transfer of Prisoners scheme began in 2002. Sixteen outward transfers have been concluded with the United Kingdom, Netherlands, Spain, Thailand and Israel.

There are currently three Australians sentenced to imprisonment in Hong Kong, in addition to those Australians awaiting trial.

Click Here for Full Story
Message from Diaz Family

On behalf of my daughter Rachel who is currently detained in a Hong Kong prison, I would like to send this message through the Foreign Prisoner Support Service, to express my appreciation to all those who have assisted us in this struggle. In particular; I would like to thank the staff of Australia Post [Sydney Gateway Facility and other Facility] with the coordination of Marissa, Venus and Cynthia. I'd also like to thank my work colleagues for their compassion and understanding, and my relatives and friends for the abundance of moral and financial support that you have given to us.

My family are grateful for the tremendous support given to us from the Filipino community both here in Australia and in Hong Kong. They have never failed to share their concerns and have kept lifting us up in their prayers and hearts.

My sincere thanks to Mark Brown, Store Manager of Ryda.com, who has always shown kindness and understanding to me. He is a very good boss and a mate...thank you.

Ms. Lisa Cook, Australian Embassy Consular Officer in Hong Kong who is helping Rachel cope under the most difficult circumstances. Your support means everything to us and we cannot thank you enough for all that you are doing for our daughter.

To everyone who has taken an interest in this case, I know we are just beginning to prepare ourselves for the greatest challenges ahead and as each day passes, we realize that this may be one of the longest journey of our lives. But even with a thousand steps ahead of us, it only takes one step forward to begin this journey and with your help and moral support, I am confident that we will endure. We are increasingly grateful for your prayers that give us an abundance of comfort and hope. We are thankful that help has come to us from the most unexpected places. God bless you all and thank you from our hearts.

Finally, to Foreign Prisoner Support Service .... more power to your organization and may the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ and Mother Mary, shower your staff, volunteers and members with good health, happiness and a safe New Year.

Thank you.

With kind regards and respect

fully yours

Ferdie Diaz and Family

HOW CAN YOU HELP
The family wish to advise that for privacy reasons only family and close friends are permitted to write and/or visit Rachel.

If you would like to offer support to the family then you may write to them at the following address;

The Diaz Family
P.O Box 158
Panania NSW 2213
Australia

Hong Kong court jails teenagers for drug trafficking
THREE young Australians including two teenagers - described by their counsel as impressionable and susceptible to a predatory crime syndicate - have been sentenced to long prison terms after pleading guilty to trying to smuggle more than 700 grams of heroin from Hong Kong to Australia last April.

Chris Ha Vo, 16, was sentenced to nine years and Rachel Ann Diaz, 18, to 10 years and eight months after counsel argued that their youth and remorse warranted lighter sentences. Hutchison Tran, 22, was sentenced to 13 years and four months. All are from Sydney.

David Boynton, counsel for Tran, the recruiter of Vo and Diaz to act as drug couriers, described the trio as three individuals from good families who had ended up as "down-and-outs".

Mr Boynton told Judge Peter Longley that Tran had been recruited by the crime syndicate in Sydney after losing his money playing slot machines at a casino.

Earlier, the court had also heard how Vo, then 15, had fallen in with the wrong crowd when he was 13 or 14. Diaz was a 17-year-old trainee hairdresser with a history of sexual abuse when they were tempted by the offer of making $6000 to $7000 if they acted as drug couriers.

Vo had agreed to swallow as many as 30 heroin-filled condoms. Diaz had agreed only to transport drugs, if at all, by strapping them to her body.

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