moved that Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), be read the second time and referred to a committee.
Madam Speaker, today I am pleased to rise and speak to my private member's bill, Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons). This bill follows my previous bill, Bill C-268, which created Canada's child trafficking offence with stiff penalties for individuals trafficking a minor in Canada. Having received royal assent on June 29, 2010, Bill C-268 is now law and is being used across Canada, most recently in a case right here in Ottawa.
Bill C-268 was supported by members from multiple parties in the last Parliament. I want to take a moment to thank the members from the Conservative Party, NDP, Liberal Party and Green Party for offering their support for Bill C-310. This bipartisan support reveals that members on both sides of the House are committed to combating human trafficking.
The term “human trafficking” can often be mistaken as human smuggling, which is the illegal movement of people across international borders. However, we must be clear and concise about what human trafficking is during our debate tonight.
Human trafficking is the illegal trade of human beings for sexual exploitation or forced labour or other forms of slavery. Human trafficking is nothing short of modern day slavery. The focus of my bill is on combating the enslavement of individuals both in Canada and abroad.
I would like to begin by speaking to the recent Ottawa case that I referred to a few minutes ago to demonstrate the reality of human trafficking here in Canada. Last week, Montreal police caught up to Jamie Byron, who was charged by the Ottawa police force for a number of serious human trafficking-related offences, including the trafficking of a minor. Mr. Byron, considered to be violent, is also wanted in Toronto for robbery, uttering threats and possession of a dangerous weapon.
I would ask members to take a moment and consider that only a few blocks away from where we are sitting today in the House, Jamie Byron was forcing underage girls into prostitution. The methods he used were particularly heinous. In a downtown Ottawa hotel a young 17-year-old girl trafficked from Windsor, Ontario was starved until she agreed to be a prostitute. This is nothing short of slavery.
As parliamentarians, we must be resolved to eradicating all forms of this slavery, both in Canada and abroad. The first clause in Bill C-310 would amend the Criminal Code to add the current trafficking in persons offences 279.01 and 279.011 to the list of offences which, if committed outside Canada by a Canadian or permanent resident, could be prosecuted in Canada. The very nature of human trafficking requires an international focus.
Canada is known as a source, transit and destination country for human trafficking. The human trafficking offence in section 279.01 states:
Every person who recruits, transports, transfers, receives, holds, conceals or harbours a person...or exercises control, direction or influence over the movements of a person...for the purpose of exploiting them or facilitating their exploitation is guilty of an indictable offence--
I would like to provide a basic example of how Bill C-310's amendment to extend extraterritorial jurisdiction to human trafficking offences would apply in an international human trafficking case.
Human trafficking can often have global implications with traffickers recruiting in one country and sending victims to another country. For example, if a Canadian trafficker were to situate him or herself in Romania and recruit, transport, transfer, receive, hold or control victims to be exploited in Canada or even within Romania, the amendment in Bill C-310 would ensure that person could be held criminally responsible in Canada.
However, if the trafficker were to return to Canada today without being caught or apprehended in Romania, the individual would not be guilty of an offence under Canadian law. In a reverse situation, this amendment would also ensure that Canada's trafficking in persons offences would apply to a Canadian who was trafficking Canadian victims within and throughout other countries.
Let us look at a real life example. John Wrenshall is a Canadian serving 25 years in an American prison for running a child brothel in Thailand. He was recruiting, holding and controlling boys as young as four years old and arranging for international child sex tourists to visit his brothel. Mr. Wrenshall even admitted to the court that his brothel was linked to a Thai pedophile sex trafficking ring.
The U.S. arrested Mr. Wrenshall in the U.K., after he left Thailand, for a number of a charges, including aiding and abetting Americans to sexually abuse children abroad.
However, had Mr. Wrenshall managed to return to Canada, we would not have been able to prosecute him for human trafficking since Canada's trafficking in persons offences are not extraterritorial.
I also want to note that this amendment would apply to people who traffic victims for sexual exploitation, as well as for forced labour or slavery. This is important, as we know that men, women and children have been recruited abroad and trafficked to Canada for the purposes of forced labour.
Extraterritorial laws are guided by a number of principles under international law. Bill C-310's amendment would fall under the nationality principle that can be defined as “States may assert jurisdiction over acts of their nationals wherever the act might take place.
Canada has designated a number of serious Criminal Code offences as extraterritorial offences, especially those related to the sexual abuse of children by Canadians sex tourists. These can be found in section 7.4 of the Criminal Code.
There are three primary purposes of designating a criminal offence with extraterritorial jurisdiction. I would like to review these with regard to human trafficking.
First, an extraterritorial human trafficking offence would allow Canada to arrest Canadians who have left the country where they engage in human trafficking in an attempt to avoid punishment here in Canada.
Second, an extraterritorial human trafficking offence would ensure justice in cases where the offence was committed in a country without strong anti-human trafficking laws or strong judicial systems.
Finally, an extraterritorial human trafficking offence would clearly indicate that Canada will not tolerate its own citizens engaging in human trafficking anywhere in the world.
While it would not be conventional to start applying extraterritorial jurisdiction to every Criminal Code offence, there is significant international precedence to do so for human trafficking offences. For example, a number of countries, such as Germany, Cyprus and Cambodia, have applied international jurisdiction to their domestic human trafficking offences so that they can prosecute their own citizens regardless of where the offences took place.
The UN Organized Crime Convention requires a state's parties to establish jurisdiction to investigate, prosecute and punish all offences established by the convention on the trafficking of persons protocol, which Canada has done.
However, in 2009, the United Nations handbook for parliamentarians on combating trafficking in persons also notes that the Organized Crime Convention encourages the establishment of jurisdiction on an extraterritorial basis. In 2003, the UN resource guide to international regional legal instruments, political commitments and recommended practices stated:
The adoption of extraterritorial criminal laws against human trafficking is one of the many intersectoral and interdisciplinary measures required to effectively combat this phenomenon.
The UN guide also stated:
Extraterritorial laws should be appreciated realistically as one of the many complementary measures needed to eliminate human trafficking, coupled ultimately with the political and social will and cooperation to overcome this global phenomena.
Prior to tabling Bill C-310, I consulted with numerous stakeholders on this matter of extraterritorial offences. This included law enforcement, prosecutors, and non-governmental organizations.
On further reflection, I will be seeking a friendly amendment at committee stage to add sections 279.02 and 279.03 to this clause. These are offences of receiving material or financial benefit from human trafficking and withholding or destroying travel documents in the process of human trafficking. This would ensure that all of the acts around human trafficking are covered by extraterritorial offences and there is no chance for a Canadian human trafficker falling through the cracks.
The second clause of Bill C-310 would amend the definition of “exploitation” in the trafficking of persons offence to add an evidentiary aid for courts to consider when they are determining whether a person was exploited.
Evidentiary aids are already used in our Criminal Code. In fact, the evidentiary aid found in section 153(1.2) of the Criminal Code provides greater clarity to the courts on what constitutes sexual exploitation of a minor.
There is also an evidentiary aid found in section 467.11(3) that provides additional guidance on what constitutes participation in organized crime.
This amendment stems from consultations with law enforcement, lawyers and prosecutors who have faced challenges demonstrating exploitation and trafficking in persons under the current definition. They feel that the current definition of “exploitation” is worded in such a way that it has caused courts to interpret “exploitation” too narrowly. The current definition hinges on an assumption that victims feared for their own safety or for the safety of someone known to them so much that they were compelled to provide a labour or a service. This has often been interpreted as a concern for one's physical safety.
UBC professor Benjamin Perrin, in his landmark book on human trafficking in Canada, called Invisible Chains, writes, “It could be argued that safety should not be restricted simply to physical harm but also should encompass psychological and emotional harm”. He goes on to point out that Canada's definition of “human trafficking” does not include methods of exploitation that are consistent with the UN Palermo protocol. The Palermo protocol states:
“Trafficking in persons” shall mean the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.
The heart of this amendment is to provide an aid to the courts that clearly demonstrates the factors that constitute exploitive methods. In my amendment, I have proposed including “use or threats of violence, force or other forms of coercion and fraudulent means”.
Similar to the first clause of this bill after it was tabled in Parliament, upon reflection, I believe it would be helpful to also include the term “use deception and abuse a position of trust, power or authority”.
I will also be seeking a friendly amendment for these minor changes at committee to ensure this bill is sound and will accomplish what we want it to do.
I would like to share some of the feedback I have already heard from stakeholders regarding Bill C-310.
Jamie McIntosh of IJM stated:
The crime of human trafficking often transgresses international boundaries, with vulnerable men, women, and children subject to its devastating reach. Human traffickers, including those of Canadian nationality, will persist in their illicit trade if they believe their crimes will go unpunished. Extending authority to prosecute Canadians for human trafficking crimes committed abroad is an important step in the global fight against human trafficking. As a nation, we must commit to prosecuting Canadian nationals who commit these crimes, regardless of geographical location at the time of offence.
UBC law professor Benjamin Perrin said:
Human traffickers have evaded prosecution for their heinous crimes, in part, because Canada's criminal laws are not explicit enough to clearly encompass the range of tactics employed by these serial exploiters....I call on all Parliamentarians to support this initiative.
Timea Nagy, who is the program director of Walk with Me, and a survivor of human trafficking herself, writes:
As an internationally trafficked survivor, who has been working with Canadian law enforcement to help human trafficking victims, I am absolutely thrilled to see this legislation.... This Bill will help Canadian law enforcement and prosecutors to be able to do their job and send a message to traffickers around the world, that Canada does not tolerate this crime against human dignity.
There are so many more organizations and experts that I could list but I do not have the time to do so. It is important that Parliament continue to act to combat modern day slavery. Human trafficking is a national and international crime and this legislation addresses both.
By supporting Bill C-310, each member of this House plays an important role in strengthening the tools used by police officers and prosecutors and in securing justice for victims of trafficking both here in Canada and abroad.