U.S. Department of State 2004 Trafficking in Persons Report - Canada

Canada (Tier 1)

Canada is primarily a destination and transit country for women trafficked for the purposes of sexual exploitation from China, South Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, the Philippines, Latin America, Russia, and Eastern Europe. To a lesser extent, men, women and children are trafficked for forced labor, and Canadian citizens are trafficked internally for the sex trade. Most transiting victims are bound for the U.S. In a recent criminal intelligence assessment, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) estimates that 800 persons are trafficked into Canada annually and that an additional 1,500-2,200 persons are trafficked through Canada into the U.S. Some observers believe these numbers significantly understate the problem.

The Government of Canada fully complies with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government's Interdepartmental Working Group coordinates and reports on the effectiveness of the national anti-trafficking policy. Senior government officials are speaking out more often, and more resources are being devoted to border control; a new RCMP anti-trafficking taskforce is also being created. For these reasons, Canada has been reclassified from Tier 2 to Tier 1.


The Government of Canada made impressive gains in prosecuting traffickers in 2003, as its law enforcement statistics demonstrate. Canada has prosecuted traffickers in the context of general law enforcement efforts, but is now starting to implement a specific anti-trafficking law enforcement strategy. The overall results are solid, even though Canada's federal system and diversity of criminal codes complicate data collection. Reviewing national statistics, Canada's Justice Department reported that at least 40 traffickers were prosecuted in the reporting period. So far 16 defendants have been convicted; sentences range from one to seven years. Other cases are still in the courts.


Canadian social service agencies offer assistance to trafficking victims who have Canadian citizenship, residency, or other legal rights to be in Canada. Under Canadian law, undocumented aliens are allowed to claim refugee status, which would permit them to remain in Canada with limited benefits while their cases are adjudicated. However, critics claim that in practice the complexity of the application process effectively prevents some victims from claiming refugee status before they are deported. Canadian authorities deny this is the case. Identifying trafficking victims inside clandestine migrant smuggling operations is difficult.


Canada is engaged at home and abroad in preventing and warning about the dangers of trafficking. The government publishes a multi-lingual pamphlet about trafficking and funds a range of Canada-based NGOs and institutions that are active in efforts to prevent trafficking. The Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) funds anti-trafficking programs on four continents. Canadian immigration officers are stationed in key source countries to hinder trafficking networks. Canadian authorities protect their borders, although officials should reassess visa requirements for certain nationals, such as South Koreans. South Koreans do not require a visa to enter Canada and are being trafficked via Canada into the U.S.


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