Canada Serves Up Justice for the “Voiceless People”

17/6/2010 – Canada makes headway into the legal repercussions of child trafficking today, with the passing of a law on tougher sentence for traffickers apprehended in the country.

The Canadian Senate has passed Bill C-268 relating to child trafficking. The bill, by Conservative MP Joy Smith, will make certain that the minimum sentence for criminals convicted of child trafficking is 5 years. For those convicted in Canada on charges of child trafficking and sexual or other forms of aggravated assault, the minimum sentence will be 6 years. Canada has made much progress in child protection is it concerns human trafficking—which has only become a criminal offence over the past five years.

The current law, as it stands before the coming into force of the new stipulations, imposes a 14-year sentence on any person convicted of any sort of human trafficking. There is, however, no minimum sentence.

Last autumn, Ms. Smith’s private member's bill passed in the House of Commons.  Smith supports her bill, primarily as she has argued that convictions have been much too lenient hitherto.

Bill C-268 had its third reading and will soon become law, receiving royal assent. It is the first private member’s bill to pass since the 2008 election. What’s more, only 14 that amend Canada’s Criminal Code have passed since Confederation in 1867.

The US Department of State, which maintains an internationally well-regarded repertoire of data and reports on human trafficking, is supportive of the steps the government has taken.

Over the years, there have been various efforts aiming at quelling the tide of child trafficking and nabbing elusive smugglers, traffickers and middle-men. They have ranged from computerized international identity databanks to DNA testing and filing.

Nigeria, South Africa, India and Brazil are among the countries facing the worst challenges in human trafficking, being either major source, transit or destination countries for children that have been abducted and sold.

In essence, child trafficking is a global problem and is addressed by such international human rights agreements as the  UN Additional Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children” (appended to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime), the International Labour Organization’s (ILO) Convention 182, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

As Ms. Smith so aptly said of the victims of child trafficking, they are “the voiceless people. They had nobody to go to. They were embarrassed. They were victimized. They were just treated in a subhuman way.”