Trafficking in Persons Report 2009 - Canada Chapter
Released on June 16, 2009
2009 TIP Report Heroes - Canada
Benjamin Perrin is a leading anti-trafficking activist in Canada and founder of The Future Group, an NGO dedicated to combating human trafficking and the child sex trade around the world. Mr. Perrin has advocated for the adoption of a Canadian national action plan and has pushed for stronger enforcement and more effective victim services. His 2006 report on Canada’s treatment of victims led to the provision of temporary residence permits and medical assistance to trafficking victims. Mr. Perrin is the chair of the University of British Columbia’s human trafficking working group. He has testified before Parliament on trafficking issues and consulted on the development of the 2008 Rio de Janeiro Pact against sexual exploitation of children. His investigations have identified a nationwide sex trafficking ring and dozens of cases in which Canada has been a transit and destination country. Mr. Perrin has several ongoing research projects that will provide Canada’s first comprehensive account of human trafficking and propose concrete policy recommendations to increase the prosecution of traffickers and the protection of victims.
CANADA (Tier 1) - Country Narratives
Canada is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of commercial sexual exploitation and forced labor. Canadian women and girls, many of whom are aboriginal, are trafficked internally for commercial sexual exploitation. Foreign women and children, primarily from Asia and Eastern Europe, are trafficked to Canada for commercial sexual exploitation, but victims from Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean also have been identified. Many trafficking victims are from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, China, South Korea, the Philippines, Russia, and Ukraine. Asian victims tend to be trafficked more frequently to Vancouver and Western Canada, while Eastern European and Latin American victims are trafficked to Toronto, Montreal, and Eastern Canada. NGOs report that Canada is a destination country for foreign victims trafficked for labor exploitation; some labor victims enter Canada legally but then are subjected to forced labor in agriculture, sweatshops, or as domestic servants. A significant number of victims, particularly South Korean females, transit Canada en route to the United States. Canada also is a source country for child sex tourists, who travel abroad to engage in sex acts with minors. Canada is reported to be a destination country for sex tourists, particularly from the United States.
The Government of Canada fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. During the past year, the Canadian government maintained strong victim protection and prevention efforts, and demonstrated modest progress in prosecuting and punishing trafficking offenders, securing five trafficking-specific convictions during the past year. Law enforcement personnel, however, reported difficulties with securing adequate punishments against offenders.
Recommendations for Canada: Intensify efforts to investigate and prosecute trafficking offenses, and convict and sentence trafficking offenders; increase use of proactive law enforcement techniques to investigate trafficking cases, including allegations of labor trafficking; increase efforts to investigate and prosecute Canadians suspected of committing child sex tourism crimes abroad; provide greater protection and services for foreign trafficking victims; improve coordination among national and provincial governments on law enforcement and victim services; and improve data collection.
The Government of Canada demonstrated progress in law enforcement actions against human traffickers last year, securing the convictions of five offenders under specific human trafficking provisions of the Criminal Code passed in 2005, marking the first convictions under these newer sections of the law. Section 279.01 of the Canadian Criminal Code prohibits most forms of human trafficking, prescribing a penalty of up to 14 years’ imprisonment. Such penalties are sufficiently stringent and commensurate with those for other serious crimes, such as sexual assault. Section 118 of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, enacted in 2002, prohibits transnational human trafficking, prescribing a maximum penalty of life imprisonment and a $1 million fine. Section 279.02 of the Criminal Code additionally prohibits a defendant from receiving a financial or material benefit from trafficking, prescribing up to 10 years’ imprisonment. Withholding or destroying a victim’s identification or travel documents to facilitate human trafficking is prohibited by Section 279.03, punishable by up to five years in prison. Section 279.04(a) defines “exploitation” for purposes of the trafficking offenses as conduct which reasonably causes a victim to provide a labor or service because they believe their safety, or the safety of a person known to them, is threatened. Provincial governments secured the convictions of five offenders under trafficking-specific laws during the reporting period, obtaining sentences ranging from two to eight years’ imprisonment. An additional 12 anti-trafficking prosecutions were pending before provincial courts as of late April 2009, involving 15 accused offenders. This compares to 2007, when provincial governments obtained the convictions of three defendants for trafficking-related crimes under other laws; and 2006, when provincial governments achieved five trafficking-related convictions. While the majority of cases prosecuted in 2008 involved domestic sex trafficking, the government reported ongoing investigations of cases involving forced labor crimes and sex trafficking crimes involving foreign victims. NGOs criticize the government’s law enforcement investigation efforts for not being proactive, particularly in terms of searching for victims and trafficking activity, especially in the labor exploitation context, since many foreign victims appear to enter Canada legally and are seldom identified when passing through immigration. Moreover, Canada’s law enforcement efforts reportedly suffer from a lack of coordination between the national government, and provincial and local authorities, which prosecuted most human trafficking cases. Last year the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) maintained anti-trafficking training efforts, and there were no reports of trafficking-related complicity by Canadian officials.
The government maintained protections for trafficking victims during the reporting period. Victim support services in Canada are generally administered at the provincial level. While each province or territory provides services for crime victims, including trafficking victims, they follow different models, sometimes leading to an uneven provision of services. However, most jurisdictions provided access to shelter services, short-term counseling, court assistance, and specialized services, such as child victim witness assistance and rape counseling. Canada funded domestic NGOs, in addition to a national Victim’s Fund, which made monies available to NGOs to fill in gaps in services for crime victims, including trafficking victims. Some NGOs and faith-based organizations have urged greater government support for trafficking victims, arguing that they have provided most victims, especially foreign trafficking victims, with shelter and services without government assistance. Undocumented foreign trafficking victims in Canada may apply for a temporary resident permit (TRP) to remain in the country. Fifteen trafficking victims received TRPs last year. During a 180-day reflection period, immigration officials determine whether a longer residency period of up to three years should be granted. Victims also may apply for fee-exempt work permits. TRP holders have access to essential and emergency medical care, dental care, and trauma counseling. However, some NGOs report difficulties with foreign trafficking victims securing TRPs and gaining access to services; some foreign trafficking victims reportedly elected to apply for refugee status instead of a TRP, claiming more secure benefits and an immigration status with which immigration officials appeared more familiar. Victims’ rights are generally respected in Canada, and victims are not penalized for crimes committed as a direct result of being trafficked, though some NGOs have reported that some foreign trafficking victims have been arrested and deported without first being identified as victims. Canadian authorities encourage but do not require trafficking victims to participate in investigations and prosecutions of trafficking offenders. The government provided formal court assistance, in addition to the use of closed circuit television testimony and other victim-sensitive approaches to facilitate victims furnishing evidence. The provinces of Quebec, Ontario, British Columbia, and Manitoba have established witness protection programs, but data is not available on the number of trafficking victims who have utilized this service. Law enforcement, immigration, and consular officials receive specialized training to identify trafficking victims.
The government maintained strong anti-trafficking prevention efforts last year. The RCMP continued to conduct widespread awareness-raising activities, reaching approximately 4,000 civil society members, in addition to distributing anti-trafficking materials to law enforcement. The federal government partnered with the Canadian Crime Stoppers Association to launch a national awareness campaign encouraging the public to report suspected cases of human trafficking to a national toll-free hotline. The government funded a national charitable organization to pursue leads about suspected child predators on the Internet. The federal government provided a grant to the Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs to combat trafficking of aboriginal women and children. The Canadian immigration agency provided pamphlets and information to temporary foreign workers, including live-in caregivers, to let them know where to seek assistance in case of exploitation or abuse, as well as to recipients of “exotic dancer” visas — which have been used to facilitate trafficking in the past — to inform them of their rights. Last year Canadian officials issued 14 exotic dancer permits, down from 15 in 2007 and 22 in 2006.
Canada is a source country for child sex tourists, and the country prohibits its nationals from engaging in child sex tourism through Section 7(4.1) of its Criminal Code. This law has extraterritorial application, and carries penalties up to 14 years in prison. Since 1997, approximately 110 formal charges have been filed against Canadians suspected of sexually exploiting children in foreign countries. Last year the Canadian government obtained the convictions of two offenders for sexually abusing young orphans in Haiti; the defendants were sentencied to two and three years’ imprisonment. Canada’s Department of Foreign Affairs distributes a publication entitled “Bon Voyage, But…” to warn Canadians traveling abroad about penalties under Canada’s child sex tourism law. The federal Interdepartmental Working Group on Trafficking in Persons is coordinating with British Columbia's Office to Combat Trafficking In Persons, the Vancouver Police, and the Vancouver Olympic Committee to incorporate anti-trafficking measures into the Olympics’ broader security plan. The RCMP has six regional human trafficking awareness coordinators across the country including one based in Vancouver responsible for maintaining relationships with law enforcement and other partners. The RCMP recently updated its outreach and awareness materials, and is providing a human trafficking tool-kit to law enforcement officers across the country. Canada’s Department of National Defense follows NATO policy on combating trafficking in persons, and provides anti-trafficking information to Canadian military forces prior to their deployment on international peacekeeping missions.
Released on June 16, 2009 ###