JUST Committee News Release
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Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
Comité permanent de la justice et des droits de la personne
For immediate release
Human Trafficking in Canada – House of Commons Committee Launches a National Consultation
Ottawa, February 15, 2018 -
The members of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights are turning to Canadians as they embark on a study of human trafficking in Canada, with unanimous support from the members of all political parties on the Committee.
Public hearings will begin in Ottawa on 15 February. The Committee will then travel to five Canadian cities – Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Edmonton and Vancouver – from March 18 to 23 to learn more about this heinous crime that is often referred to as a form of modern slavery. The Committee wishes to hear from survivors of human trafficking, from providers of assistance and support services to victims, and from other community partners.
“Trafficking in persons” refers to the recruitment, transportation, harbouring, detention or control of a person for the purpose of forced service. It can take different forms, including domestic slavery, forced labour in various industries and sexual exploitation, which seems to be the main reason for human trafficking in Canada.
Trafficking is a serious violation of basic human rights. Unfortunately, despite all the efforts made to combat it, human trafficking still has many victims. In Canada, victims – most of whom are women and children – are controlled through violence or the threat of violence against them or their loved ones. Certain groups are overrepresented among victims or are at greater risk of becoming victims in the Canadian context; these include Indigenous women and girls, migrant workers, new immigrants, and members of the LGBTQ2+ community.
The Committee’s study will focus on human trafficking in Canada and will examine the following issues:
• the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking and initiatives proposed to combat human trafficking in Canada;
• identifying the needs of victims of trafficking and the barriers faced by those who have escaped human trafficking, namely access to the services and the prosecution of traffickers;
• effective protection and support for victims of human trafficking, including victims who do not have Canadian citizenship;
• the realities and challenges facing community organizations that assist victims, and law enforcement agencies that investigate and detect human trafficking;
• the current legal framework, its effectiveness and challenges, the challenges the justice system faces in prosecuting traffickers, and possible changes to the legal framework to more effectively combat human trafficking (The Committee will take into account the amendments proposed in Bill C-38, An Act to amend An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons, currently at first reading in the House of Commons));
• the most effective programs and practices for raising awareness, preventing and detecting human trafficking; and
• the collection of data on human trafficking in Canada, related challenges and possible improvements.
“It is shocking that human trafficking is still happening in Canada, despite efforts over the past few years to put an end to this heinous crime. We must continue to work to counter and prevent all forms of human trafficking. We are anxious to hear from Canadians on this important topic, so that we can make appropriate recommendations that serve the needs of victims and stakeholders.”
- Anthony Housefather, Chair of the Committee
“We are committed to ensuring that victims receive adequate, fair and effective protection. Victims must be able to report their traffickers with confidence, benefit from robust protection and obtain appropriate services. We are eager to hear from survivors of trafficking, in order to better understand their realities and to recommend solutions that will bring traffickers to justice.”
- Rob Nicholson, Vice-Chair of the Committee
“A coordinated national response is needed. It is imperative that stakeholders have the tools to prevent trafficking, to identify and protect victims and to bring traffickers to justice. Through this national consultation, we hope to facilitate collaboration among the various levels of government, law enforcement, civil society, aboriginal communities, the private sector and researchers.”
- Murray Rankin, Vice-Chair of the Committee
Those interested in appearing before the Committee are invited to submit their request as soon as possible to the Clerk of the Committee:
The Clerk will contact those selected to appear to provide them with the dates and times of the Committee’s hearings, the time allocated for presentations, and other details. Informal meetings will also be organized, especially when the Committee is travelling.
Witnesses who are invited to appear and are unfamiliar with the hearing process can consult the Guide for Witnesses Appearing Before House of Commons Committees. In addition, written presentations may be submitted to the Clerk for distribution to Committee members. Those preparing briefs may wish to consult the Guide for Submitting Briefs to House of Commons Committees.
The Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is composed of 12 members of Parliament. It is chaired by Anthony Housefather, MP for Mount Royal.
For more information on the Committee’s members, meetings and work, please consult the Committee’s website.