What is Human Trafficking?

Criminal Code Definition | United Nations Definition | Domestic vs. International | Migrant Smuggling

Criminal Code of Canada Definition:

Human Trafficking, involves the recruitment, transportation, harbouring and/or exercising control, direction or influence over the movements of a person in order to exploit that person, typically through sexual exploitation or forced labour. Also known as “modern-day slavery”.

Exploitation is defined as causing a person to provide or offer to provide a labour or service by engaging in conduct that could reasonably be expected to cause the other person to believe that their safety or the safety of a person they know would be threatened if they did not provide the labour of service.

In Canada, the law states that no one can “consent” to any of the activities that are part of the definition of human trafficking.

Source: Criminal Code, RSC c C-46, s 279.01-279.04.

United Nations (UN) Definition:

Human Trafficking, is the act of recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control over another person, for the purpose of exploitation.

Exploitation is defined as including at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.

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Domestic vs. International Human Trafficking:

Movement is not a defining element of human trafficking.
People are often recruited and exploited without ever leaving their home communities.

Domestic Trafficking, is when the trafficking of a person is done within the boundaries of one country. No international borders are crossed from the time of recruitment to exploitation.

Example: A trafficker recruits an individual in Niagara Falls, Ontario but, exploits them in Calgary, Alberta.

International Trafficking, is when the trafficking of a person involves the crossing of at least 1 international border. This means that the trafficked person is transported through a minimum of 2 countries. Crossing of borders with a trafficked person can be done legally, with valid documentation, but can also be done illegally with no documents or fake ones.

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Human Trafficking vs. Smuggling:

Migrant Smuggling, involves the facilitation of illegal entry of a person into a country they are not a resident of, by which the person voluntarily enters an agreement with a smuggler to gain entry, usually involving dangerous travel conditions. This usually takes the form of a business transaction, where the smuggler receives and accepts either a financial or material benefit as payment for their services.

Smuggling can sometimes turn into human trafficking, when the person that initially consented to the transaction is then deprived of their freedom and is forced into an exploitative situation.

Differences between Human Trafficking & Migrant Smuggling

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