On Monday, May 6, 2013, Mrs. Louise Dionne and Sister Claudette Bastien, S.N.J.M., representatives of CATHII (Comité for action against human trafficking both nationally and internationally) presented testimony as part of the ongoing study of Bill C-452, an act to amend the Criminal Code on exploitation and trafficking in persons.
Two other groups, the Salvation Army and the Council on the Status of Women, also testified at this hearing.
Introduced by Mrs. Maria Mourani, Deputy for Ahuntsic, this bill seeks to strengthen the component of sexual exploitation within the context of trafficking, and to reverse the burden of proof for the criminals, at the same time as confiscating the money gained from these crimes from all those found guilty of trafficking and procurement.
In their witnessing on behalf of CATHII, it seemed necessary that the two speakers defend the point of view of the victims, based on their vulnerable position and their own specific journey.
If the money confiscated is used for the victims’ rehabilitation, it would be a step forward! It also seemed important to them to draw attention to another aspect of human trafficking: forced labour. The latest international reports refer to a significant increase of this reality.
Following their testimony, they answered questions from the Committee members, which consisted of three representatives from each of the Political Parties in Ottawa.
This was an experience involving citizen participation which will, no doubt, allow for suggestions for amendments to this bill which will result in penalizing the traffickers but, above all, in defending the rights of victims of human trafficking.
Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons)
Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights (JUST)
Three major elements are defined in this draft of the Bill:
Firstly: The bill aims to reverse the burden of proof in human trafficking cases since victims often don’t want to come forward to testify. Accused traffickers will have to explain how they are not exploiting others to make a living when they are found with a victim of trafficking.
Secondly: When there is trafficking, there are also other offences related to this crime, for example, confiscation of passport, captivity, violence etc., so that it sets consecutive sentences for offences related to the same crime.
Thirdly: It allows for seizing the money gained from these crimes from all those found guilty of this crime.
Thus, in lending our support to this bill which received a first reading, CATHII hopes that it will provide better protection for the victims and allow for their rehabilitation within the context of greater safety, sheltered from their traffickers.
Claudette Bastien, s.n.j.m.
President of CATHII