Ottawa, ON: Member of Parliament Joy Smith and UBC Law Professor Benjamin Perrin are calling for the development of a comprehensive national action plan to combat human trafficking in Canada.
Recently, evidence provided by Professor Perrin’s book Invisible Chains and a national threat assessment released by the RCMP in September 2010 called Project SECLUSION have pointed to an extensive and highly profitable system of human trafficking networks across Canada. Men, women, and youth face forms of modern day slavery in Canada including sex trafficking and forced labour.
“The profitable and clandestine nature of trafficking in persons in Canada requires a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach that draws together the existing frameworks, stakeholders, and agencies,” says MP Joy Smith. “I am convinced that a federally led national action plan would address these challenges by implementing an integrated response to target the traffickers and provide relief and protection for the victims.”
“A national action plan to combat human trafficking should be a priority for our federal government to end this atrocious crime that is flourishing in Canada,” said Benjamin Perrin, author of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking. “We need to commit to end this hidden national tragedy today and restore Canada’s promise as a free and just society.”
MP Joy Smith and Professor Benjamin Perrin are calling for a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking that contains the following key components:
1) Prosecute Traffickers: Identify, disrupt and prosecute human trafficking operations with integrated law enforcement Human Trafficking Task Forces to target the most prolific and violent criminal organizations and networks.
2) Protect Victims: Ensure victims of human trafficking can access needed governmental and non-governmental services wherever they are identified in Canada.
3) Prevent the Crime: Prevention efforts including outreach and education to ensure that the most vulnerable, including at-risk Aboriginal youth and those in child protection, are resistant to tactics of traffickers; ensure temporary foreign workers who are victims benefit from “whistleblower” protection with alternative employment and recovery of unpaid wages.
4) Confront Demand: adopt the Nordic model of prostitution [commonly known as the Swedish model] to criminalize the purchase of sex acts, but not those being sold who are instead offered support to exit exploitation; vigorously enforce Canada’s extraterritorial child sex crime offences and prevent convicted child sex offenders from freely travelling abroad.
5) Cooperation: Work collaboratively with the provinces, law enforcement, Aboriginal leaders, non-governmental organizations and survivors to implement this plan to end human trafficking in Canada.
“As 18th century abolitionist and British Member of Parliament William Wilberforce said 200 years ago ‘Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way...but you may never again say that you did not know.’ Today we know and as a nation, we must now act,” says MP Joy Smith.
Their call for federal leadership on this issue is echoed by stakeholders across the country including law enforcement, First Nations, victim service providers, and victims themselves.
“Law enforcement agencies across Canada have been working together to protect the victims of human trafficking,” said Canadian Police Association President Charles Momy. “However we recognize that more can and should be done to establish a coordinated response to ensure the offenders are prosecuted, and put a stop to this modern day form of slavery.”
“While international human trafficking is well known, Mrs. Smith has brought forward the realities of human trafficking right here in Canada,” says Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs, Grand Chief Ron Evans. “Her recommendations bring attention to the fact that most vulnerable victims of domestic human trafficking and sexual exploitation are First Nations youth. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs has developed a First Nations specific anti-trafficking strategy to raise awareness of this growing problem and fully supports the recommendations set out in this national action plan.
Prevention, Protection and Intervention is the key to combat human trafficking.”
“I want to commend Joy Smith and Ben Perrin for their leadership in developing a national strategy that will prevent future victimization and support those who have been victimized,” said Steve Sullivan, Executive Director of Ottawa Victim Services and former federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime.
“When I first learned about the Invisible Chains, by Benjamin Perrin, my ‘survivor side’ got overwhelmed: ‘Finally someone giving us a voice’.
When I learned about the proposal for a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking by Mrs. Smith, my ‘advocate side’ felt a huge amount of relief,” says Timea Nagy, a survivor of human trafficking and founder of Walk With Me. “It’s time for Canada to have a National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking.”
Last month, MP Joy Smith released a comprehensive proposal for a national action plan to combat human trafficking which can be accessed here: http://www.joysmith.ca/main.asp?fxoid=FXMenu,7&cat_ID=27&sub_ID=104&sub2_ID=26