Saturday, August 21, 2004

Organized Asian-based Crime Threatens Canada: RCMP

A new report outlines how organized crime groups pose a major criminal threat in Canada.

The 2004 annual report was published by the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC). It says Asian-based organized crime (AOC) has a presence all over Canada, and that groups are currently active in Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton and the Toronto area.

The report says there is concentrated AOC activity in Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and Halifax.

"AOC groups remain involved in payment card fraud, illegal gaming, loan-sharking, prostitution and human smuggling/trafficking," according to its summary.

The report also found that Eastern European-based gangs and organized crime (EEOC) networks operate across the country, but are particularly strong in Ontario, B.C., Alberta and Quebec. It said that because EEOC groups have the ability to expand their networks, they "benefit from others' expertise in order to target new and/or specific criminal markets."

"This is going to get a lot worse before it gets better," RCMP Commissioner Guiliano Zaccardelli told reporters Friday.

Source: CTV News, CISC Annual Report 2004.

Friday, August 20, 2004

Dutch man acquitted in child sex abuse case in Cambodia

PHNOM PENH, Cambodia - A court on Thursday acquitted a Dutch man of sexually abusing two underage boys in Cambodia, lawyers said. Judge Kong Sarith cleared Rene Paul Martin Aubel, 48, of sex offenses against minors, said Liv Sovanna, the lawyer representing the two boys.

It wasn't immediately known why Aubel was acquitted.

Prosecutor Siem Sok Aun said he has already filed an appeal, which prevents authorities from releasing Aubel pending a final settlement.

Police arrested Aubel after finding him with two young boys during a raid on his Phnom Penh hotel room in April. They confiscated 52 photographs showing Aubel and several boys posing naked or in bed together, and one in which Aubel appears to be performing a sex act on a boy.

Child rights advocates have said Cambodia is a magnet for foreign pedophiles due to lax law enforcement, corruption in the courts and poverty that forces children into prostitution.

Authorities, however, launched a crackdown on suspected foreign pedophiles late last year and have arrested about two dozen suspects from countries including Australia, Canada, France, Germany, New Zealand and the United States.

Source: AP WorldStream, 08/19/04.

Thursday, August 19, 2004

Human Trafficking in the Middle East: A Special Report

TEL AVIV, Israel - Human trafficking is turning into a real problem in Israel, where law enforcement officials say women are bought and sold into the indentured servitude of the sex industry.

The women in question are usually from the former Soviet Union and are traded by the Russian mob. The same Bedouins who smuggle weapons into Israel bring the women up through the Egyptian desert, oftentimes with a load of weapons.

Thinking they are escaping the harsh conditions of home, a reported 3,000 prostitutes each year come to Israel. Their fist experience in the Holy Land is a forced march across the Egyptian desert, crossing the Israeli border through routes used to smuggle weapons and drugs.

Once across the border, the women are asked to perform various acts, then traded. When sold, police say their passports are confiscated by their owners and they're locked in brothels where they're forced to work off their $4,000 to $10,000 price tag.

Israel recently got off the U.S. State Department's black list of nations that allow human trafficking by prosecuting the individuals who buy, sell and transport the women. But in the last two years, Israeli police have raided more than 200 brothels, prosecuting 150 traffickers.

Source: Fox News, August 18, 2004.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Annual General Meeting

Last night, members of The Future Group met in Calgary for their AGM.

Members received the Annual Report (2003) including financial statements, heard from the Executive Director on "Challenges & Opportunities for 2004-5", participated in a question and answer session, and voted for new directors of the organization.

Congratulations to the three directors that were elected for 2004-5:
  1. Treva Braun: a lawyer, human rights activist and volunteer
  2. Shuvaloy Majumdar: deployment leader in Southeast Asia
  3. Benjamin Perrin: founder and Executive Director