With the cooperation of police agencies across Canada a large-scale investigation occurred which highlighted human trafficking’s presence in our communities. Operation Northern Spotlight’s investigation resulted in 334 interviews, 32 people charged with numerous offenses and 16 minors rescued from the sex trade.
Let’s assume that most, if not all of these individuals, will see the inside of a courtroom. How many cases will result in convictions or jail time?
Well, the numbers don’t appear very promising. According to Stats Canada’s report, Trafficking in persons in Canada, 2014,“Majority of human trafficking court cases result in finding of stayed or withdrawn.” The sentences for those that were found guilty ranged from custody, probation and other sentences not specified. There is no doubt it is a difficult crime to prosecute when so much evidence must come from victims who have lived with the threat of death.
It is also important to note that according to their findings “human trafficking has doubled.” Investigations like Operation Northern Spotlight, public awareness and increased reporting mechanisms likely have influenced the boost in numbers. But numbers are just numbers and we all know they only represent the tip of the iceberg.
We don’t need to be police officers in order to help expose the cold, hard life that is the reality for victims of this heinous trade. If we really want to be part of the solution and bring people to whatever form of justice exist today, then we must consider our role carefully.
Do you know how to identify a victim of human trafficking? This is especially important to those that come in direct contact with individuals who may be seeking immediate health care.
Are you in contact with youth and in particular youth at risk?
The Office to Combat Human Trafficking in Persons offers online training:
Have you come across internet images or postings that are sexual in nature and did it cause you to question the person’s age or their safety?
Did you report what you saw to your local police or human trafficking hotline?
If you want to know how to identify or help victims of human trafficking then find the resources in your area and become informed:
WE NEED TO HELP OUR LAW ENFORCEMENT COMMUNITY COMBAT HUMAN TRAFFICKING BECAUSE THIS IS THE ONE CRIME WHERE THE MAJORITY OF WITNESSES ARE ALSO THE PERPETRATORS.