Defend Dignity Welcomes Justice Committee’s Report on Human Trafficking

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Defend Dignity welcomes the newest report of the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights which was presented to parliament on December 11th, 2018. 

The report, entitled “Moving Forward in the Fight Against Human Trafficking in Canada”, includes seventeen recommendations for the Justice Minister pertaining to the government’s approach to human trafficking. Defend Dignity believes the recommendations made by the Committee are a positive step forward in the fight against human trafficking.

In April 2018, Defend Dignity had the opportunity to present ten recommendations to the Committee that we believe would improve Canada’s response to human trafficking. We are pleased that the Committee aligned with some of these recommendations in their recent report, including:

• The renewal of an enhanced National Action Plan to end human trafficking

• Increased training for judges in the form of support programs aimed at increasing awareness of human trafficking

• Improved data gathering and information sharing among stakeholders and the creation of a national information database

The report also recommends that the Justice Minister “firmly establish the parameters and the definition of human trafficking to ensure that there is a definition used by all governments within Canada.” Defend Dignity believes this to be a good first step, but further calls on the government to synchronize the definition of Human Trafficking in Canadian legislation to agree with the definition of human trafficking found in the UN Palermo Protocol, as approved by Canada in 2002.

Defend Dignity made other recommendations that were not included in the Committee’s list of recommendations. These include: 

• An affirmation of the current prostitution laws (The Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act, or PCEPA)

• The purging of past prostitution records of victims of human trafficking

• Increased funding and supports for victims of human trafficking

* To make Prostitution Offender Programs (aka john schools) mandatory in every major city in Canada for their role in educating and reforming buyers of sex.

Of particular significance is the absence of any language that would recognize the role that demand plays in human trafficking. It is Defend Dignity’s position that demand for paid sex and human trafficking are inextricably linked, and therefore any comprehensive strategy for fighting human trafficking must involve a strategy to curb demand.

Defend Dignity welcomes the Committee’s findings and thanks Committee members for their dedicated work in the fight to end human trafficking in Canada. We also believe that there is much more to be done to strengthen Canada’s approach to human trafficking that will further empower law enforcement, protect victims, and deter traffickers, and we look forward to our next opportunity to collaborate with the Committee on this matter.

The Committee’s report can be viewed at: https://www.ourcommons.ca/DocumentViewer/en/42-1/JUST/report-24/page-5

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