FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 1, 2009
VANCOUVER, BC – Last night, the House of Commons voted overwhelmingly to enact stiffer sentences for child trafficking, recognizing the severity of the crime and the failure of recent sentences to protect victims and hold offenders accountable.
“This historic vote to protect children puts child traffickers on notice that they will face imprisonment upon conviction,” said Benjamin Perrin, a leading expert on human trafficking and law professor at the University of British Columbia.
Bill C-268 was adopted by the House of Commons after third reading, with a vote of 239 in favour, and 46 opposed. It now moves to the Senate, which must approve it before it can be proclaimed into law.
The Bill imposes a 5 year mandatory minimum sentence, rising to up to 14 years, for trafficking in persons under 18 years of age. The penalties increase further if the child victim is also subjected to an aggravated sexual assault, forcible confinement, kidnapping or is killed, with a 6 year mandatory minimum and up to life imprisonment.
Professor Perrin proposed and helped draft Bill C-268 after a series of abysmal sentences in recent child trafficking cases in Ontario and Quebec – in one case the trafficker spent just a single day in prison upon conviction, after being given 2 for 1 credit for time served. Police officers trying to protect child victims were very concerned.
“This is the only private member’s bill out of over 250 introduced in this Parliamentary session that has been adopted by the House of Commons,” said Perrin. “This sends a strong message to the Senate to closely review the Bill, but do so on an expedited basis.”
The adoption of Bill C-268 is a testament to the dedication of Joy Smith, Conservative Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, Manitoba who introduced it. Over 14,000 Canadians signed a petition calling for the adoption of Bill C-268. It has been endorsed by groups from across Canada including the Canadian Police Association, Manitoba Assembly of Chiefs, B.C. Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons and dozens of community organizations that assist victims of sexual exploitation.
The only opposition to the Bill was from several rogue NDP Members of Parliament and the Bloc Quebecois, which has faced intense criticism from victims groups in Quebec, including a march through Montreal last weekend protesting the Bloc’s opposition to the Bill. Their opposition comes despite increasing concerns about child sex trafficking in Canada.
“Across the country, organized crime networks are actively trafficking Canadian-born women and under-age girls inter and intra-provincially, and in some instances to the United States, destined for the sex trade,” according to an August 2008 report by the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC) entitled Organized Crime and Domestic Trafficking in Persons in Canada.
Professor Perrin is a leading expert on human trafficking, having served as Senior Policy Advisor to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and as Executive Director of a non-governmental organization that works to combat this problem.
Perrin identified the urgent need for Bill C-268 while conducting research in recent human trafficking cases for an upcoming book entitled Journey of Injustice: Canada's Underground World of Human Trafficking, to be published by Penguin Group (Canada) in October 2010.
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For more information, please contact:
Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia
Faculty Fellow, Liu Institute for Global Issues
Phone: (778) 928-9327
Joel Oosterman, Legislative Assistant
Office of Joy Smith, MP
Phone: (613) 992-7148
Links for further information about Bill C-268: