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Human Trafficking FAQs
What is the difference between human trafficking and human smuggling?
Human trafficking and human smuggling are not the same thing. The differences are as follows:
Human Trafficking involves the recruitment, transportation or harbouring of persons for the purpose of exploitation (typically in the sex industry or for forced labour). Traffickers use various methods to maintain control over their victims, including force, sexual assault and threats of violence. Human trafficking may occur across or within borders, may involve extensive organized crime networks, and is clearly a violation of the basic human rights of its victims. The relationship between the trafficker and the victim is continuous and extends beyond the border crossing. Victims may be forced into labour, prostitution or some other form of servitude. Victims may suffer abuse before, during and after transportation, and may face fatal consequences if they attempt to escape.
Domestic Human Trafficking refers to any victim of human trafficking who is trafficked within Canada (regardless of the victim’s status).
International Human Trafficking refers to any victim of human trafficking who is trafficked within Canada who, in the process of being trafficked, crossed an international border (regardless of the victim’s status).
Human smuggling is a form of illegal migration involving the organized transport of a person across an international border, usually in exchange for a sum of money and sometimes in dangerous conditions. When the final destination is reached the business relationship ends, and the smuggler and the individual part company.
What is the scope of human trafficking in Canada and internationally?
Canada has been identified as a transit and destination country for human smuggling. The extent of human trafficking is difficult to assess due to the clandestine nature of these activities, and the difficulty in distinguishing between human trafficking victims and illegal migrants.
Who are the traffickers?
The involvement of transnational organized crime groups in human trafficking is part of a growing global trend. Human trafficking generates huge profits for criminal organizations, which often have operations extending from the source to the destination countries. These transnational crime networks also utilize smaller, decentralized criminal groups that may specialize in recruiting, transporting or harbouring victims. Human trafficking is also known to be perpetrated by small family criminal groups who control the entire operation. Individuals working independently may also traffic persons for profit/personal gain (which can include free labour).
How are victims deceived?
Traffickers approach potential victims in a variety of manners including:
- direct contact with family and relatives
- agents who scout for potential victims in source regions, sometimes representing themselves as a potential sponsor or love interest
- misleading advertisements promising jobs and opportunity in North America.
More abusive methods are also used and range from:
- coerced compliance
- violence, including physical and emotional abuse.
Human trafficking may occur locally or domestically, without any movement, such as within the same city.
Victims may be transported by plane, boat, train or any type of vehicle, and often a combination of them, using genuine and/or fraudulent documents that are usually removed from them upon arrival at their destination.
Victims may then be isolated and/or taken to illicit businesses where they may be subjected to physical and sexual abuse and concealment. They may be forced to perform a variety of services including working in the sex trade, factories, restaurants, agriculture, marijuana grow operations, or providing domestic work.
How would I recognize a victim? (Usually includes a combination of indicators).
- they may be controlled by someone else by being escorted or watched
- they may not speak on their own behalf and may not be English/French speaking
- they may not have a passport or other I.D.
- they may not be familiar with the neighborhood they live/work in
- they may be moved frequently by their traffickers
- they may have injuries/bruises from beating and/or weapons
- they may show visible signs of torture i.e. cigarette burns, cuts
- they may show visible signs of branding or scarring (indicating ownership by the trafficker)
- they may show signs of malnourishment
- they may express fear and intimidation through facial expressions and/or body language
Where would I find a victim who has been trafficked for sexual exploitation?
- modeling studios
- escort services
- massage parlours
- private residences
Where would I find a victim who has been trafficked for forced labour?
- non-unionized industries
- commercial agriculture
- fishing fleets
- criminal organizations (marihuana grow operations, drug couriers)
- construction sites
- forced marriages
- private residences
Considering the clandestine nature of human trafficking, how does law enforcement learn of potential cases to investigate?
Information may be obtained from:
- the public reporting suspicious activities
- government agencies and non-government organizations (i.e. working at ports of entry or dealing with health and social services)
- international agencies working in partnership to combat human trafficking
- victims escaping from traffickers
- law enforcement conducting criminal investigations.
What is the role of law enforcement in addressing human trafficking?
- identify children and adults at risk
- inform potential victims of their rights
- identify and investigate criminal elements of circumstances and seek to prosecute individuals involved in human trafficking
- refer potential victims who are not Canadian citizens or permanent residents to Citizenship and Immigration Canada to learn of their options regarding immigration status
- identify support services and refer victims/potential victims to specialist non-government organizations that may assist with finding safe accommodation, and various needs including medical, psychological, legal assistance, education, and work placement
- conduct interviews, seek intelligence, undertake investigations with immigration officials and any other appropriate parties, and ensure that links are made with other agencies and national/international policing organizations
- provide protection to victims and staff supporting them
- work closely with Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Canada Border Services Agency, provincial/territorial and municipal agencies, social services, child welfare authorities and any non-government organizations involved in service delivery to provide protection to victims, including children
- conduct a continuous risk assessment with respect to the safety and welfare of the victims and their families at every stage of the investigation and judicial process and beyond
- enforce the laws of Canada including those in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) Section 118, and the Criminal Code, Section 279.01-03 (Section 279 is kidnapping).
What enforcement powers do the new Criminal Code provisions give law enforcement?
Section 279.01-03 contains three indictable offences which specifically address human trafficking:
- Section 279.01 prohibits anyone from recruiting, transporting, transferring, receiving, holding, concealing or harbouring a person, or exercising control or influence over the movements of a person, for the purpose of exploiting or facilitating the exploitation of that person (maximum penalty: life where it involves the kidnaping, aggravated assault or aggravated sexual assault, or death of the victim and 14 years in any other case);
- Section 279.02 prohibits anyone from receiving a financial or other material benefit for the purpose of committing or facilitating the exploitation of that person (maximum penalty: 10 years);
- Section 279.03 prohibits the withholding or destruction of documents, such as a victim's travel documents or documents establishing their identity, for the purpose of committing or facilitating the exploitation of that person (maximum penalty: 5 years).
- Section 279.04 defines exploitation as causing a person to provide, or offer to provide, labour or services by engaging in conduct that leads the victim to reasonably fear for their safety or that of someone known to them, if they fail to comply. It would apply to the use of force, deception or other forms of coercion causing the removal of a human organ or tissue.
What training is available for law enforcement to enhance their investigative skills regarding human trafficking?
National and international conferences expose participants to best practices, roundtables, discussions, workshops and seminars to raise awareness of human trafficking.
Training specifically related to the subject of human trafficking is included in the RCMP’s Immigration and Passport Investigators course.
The RCMP’s Human Trafficking National Coordination Centre has developed a Human Trafficking Tool Kit available to all law enforcement officers across Canada. One of the main objectives is to inform investigators of the amendments to the Criminal Code.
An informative and detailed "Human Trafficking Reference Guide for Canadian Law Enforcement" is available to the public.
Where can I find more information on human trafficking?
For more information, visit the Immigration and Passport web site.
How can I help?
If you or someone you know is being exploited, contact your local police.
If you wish to report a crime anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Remember, do not take the law into your own hands or get involved in any illegal activities.