Mr. Speaker, Bill C-310, which would amend the Criminal Code, clarifies legislation pertaining to human trafficking, a global phenomenon that requires the legislator to take a transnational approach.
This bill amends two provisions of the Criminal Code pertaining to human trafficking. The first change would make an addition to section 7 of the Criminal Code. It formally recognizes trafficking in humans as an extraterritorial offence that can be prosecuted in Canada, and applying to both Canadians and permanent residents.
The second change would replace section 279.04 of the Criminal Code in order to provide a more precise definition of the concept of exploitation. Hence, “ ...the Court may consider, among other factors, whether the accused, (a) used or threatened to use violence; (b) used or threatened to use force; (c) used or threatened another form of coercion; or (d) used fraudulent misrepresentation or other fraudulent means”, when determining whether or not there was exploitation. It should be noted that the bill also includes in the concept of exploitation the removal of an organ or tissue by the use of force, violence or coercion.
A number of experts have expressed concerns about the current legislation, which they believe is not detailed enough to allow the courts to prove the offence of exploitation. By including the content of article 3 of the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime Protocol, the legislator is attempting to harmonize domestic law with international law in the area of human trafficking. Thus, in this article:
“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. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs;
In light of the extraterritorial nature of the offences set out in sections 279.01 and 279.011 of the Criminal Code, the legislator uses principles of international law in order to fight human trafficking, which must be strongly condemned. We must agree with strengthening the legislation to deal with these offences This bill is one solution that will help limit this transnational scourge.
By making these amendments to the Criminal Code, Canada would only be respecting its international commitments. Canada signed this convention and its protocols in 2000 and ratified them in 2002. As a result, it is required to introduce legislation to recognize trafficking in persons as an offence.
I will take this opportunity in the debate at second reading of this private member's bill to talk about the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling, which is not addressed in these legislative amendments. Human smuggling is defined as a crime committed by any person who enables the illegal migration of other individuals by means of the organized transport of a person across an international border. By contrast, human trafficking refers to the recruitment of vulnerable persons for the purposes of various types of exploitation, generally in the sex industry or forced labour, through various methods of control.
Victims of human trafficking in Canada are unfortunately most often aboriginal women and girls who are sexually exploited.
Exploitation for the purposes of forced labour also exists in Canada. The people behind this type of 21st century slavery take advantage of the precarious legal status of foreigners under their control, who are often illegal immigrants. These immigrants are brainwashed and often fear testifying, since they worry that they themselves will be arrested or deported to their country of origin.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I support this private member's bill, which would aim to bring our legislation in line with international law.