Media Release | Oct. 28, 2008
UBC Legal Expert Releases Canada’s First Stats on Foreign Human Trafficking Victims
Romania, the Philippines, Moldova and China are the top-four source countries for foreign victims of human trafficking to Canada, according to new statistics released today by University of British Columbia legal expert Benjamin Perrin.
These are the first national statistics on international human trafficking to become available since Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) began flagging cases in its databases in May 2006, after introducing measures to protect foreign nationals exploited in the sex trade and in forced labour.
“This is the tip of the trafficking iceberg. More work is needed at the federal, provincial and municipal levels to identify and assist victims of modern-day slavery,” says Asst. Prof. Perrin, a leading expert on human trafficking who teaches at the UBC Faculty of Law and served as senior policy advisor to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.
Perrin obtained the statistics under the Access to Information Act and will be presenting these findings at a national conference on human trafficking on October 29-30, 2008 in Vancouver, hosted by the B.C. Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons.
Perrin says that at least 31 foreign nationals were brought to the attention of immigration officials between May 2006 and May 2008 as potential human trafficking victims. Four of them were minors.
Of the 31 individuals: 12 were granted temporary residence permits (TRPs), seven were refused TRPs, one victim’s TRP was cancelled, and one victim went missing. The 10 remaining individuals have their cases pending, or obtained another form of immigration status.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) was active in referring 61 per cent of all trafficking cases to CIC. In addition, during the two-year period, one case each was referred by non-governmental organizations and the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).
Perrin says these cases likely represent only a small number of the actual number of human trafficking cases. Due to threats, violence and coercion, most trafficking victims are unable to come forward. In addition, these statistics do not include a growing number of domestic trafficking cases involving Canadian women and girls.
“Trafficking victims remain a hidden population in Canada,” says Perrin.
The RCMP has appointed human trafficking coordinators in every region of the country who have been training police and liaising with non-governmental organizations and provincial government agencies. However, Canada does not have a national strategy to combat human trafficking, despite the federal Interdepartmental Working Group on Trafficking in Persons having promised one for years.
“The RCMP is starting to have some success in identifying foreign victims,” says Perrin. “However, none of their traffickers has been brought to justice. These transnational criminals continue to operate with impunity.”
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