Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Canada, UK not helping trafficking victims: report

By David Ljunggren

OTTAWA (Reuters) - Canada does a terrible job of helping the victims of human trafficking and usually deports them rather than offering help, a Canadian non-governmental organization said on Wednesday.

The Future Group, set up in 2000 to combat human trafficking, also singled out Britain for what it said was its general failure to live up to the commitments in a 2003 United Nations trafficking protocol, designed to protect and assist those caught up in the trade in human beings.
"Canada has systematically failed to comply with its international obligations ... Canada's record of dealing with trafficking victims is an international embarrassment," the Future Group said in a 40-page report entitled "Falling Short of the Mark."

Canada's new Conservative government, which won the January 23 election and ended 12 years of Liberal rule, said it would examine ways to address the report's findings.

"It's very disappointing and I'm shocked to see how slowly we've moved," Immigration Minister Monte Solberg told Reuters.

"We'll see what we can do to begin to fix the system so we're more responsive to these victims," he said.

The United Nations said last year that globalization and demand for cheap labor had helped force at least 12.3 million people, half of them children, into slave-like work worldwide and created a huge human trafficking industry.

It said sex workers recruited and shipped to the West comprised the single biggest money makers in the trafficking industry, which generates $32 billion in annual profits.

A study done by Canadian police in 2004 said around 800 people were smuggled into the country each year -- most to work in the sex industry -- while a further 2,200 were trafficked via Canada to the United States.

Police said the likely numbers were much higher, given that they estimated only 10 percent of victims reported the crime.

The U.N. protocol urges signatories to consider allowing victims to stay permanently and also to give them financial and medical assistance.

"Canada ... continues to re-traumatize trafficking victims, with few exceptions, by subjecting them to routine deportation and fails to provide even basic services," said the report.

The Future Group also criticized Britain, where it said "trafficking victims are dealt with on a case-by-case basis and routinely deported. Only minimal support has been provided to victims in recent years."

It praised Australia, Italy, Norway, Germany, Sweden and the United States for largely adhering to the U.N. protocol.

Source: Reuters (Canada), Reuters (UK), YahooNews, Dose