Defining Human Trafficking

From Clicklaw Wikibooks

What is human trafficking?

Human trafficking has often been described as a modern-day form of slavery. BC's Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking defines trafficking as "the recruiting, harbouring and/or controlling of a person for the purpose of exploitation." The United Nations Office on Drug and Crime's Global Report on Trafficking in Persons (2009) states that the most common form of human trafficking (79%) is sexual exploitation. The victims of sexual exploitation are predominantly women and girls. The second most common form of human trafficking is forced labour (18%), although this may be misleading because forced labour is less frequently detected and reported than trafficking for sexual exploitation.

Human trafficking is a violation of human rights and a serious crime.

In 2000, to fight human trafficking the United Nations adopted an international treaty, known as the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children. Amongst other things, the Protocol defined human trafficking as Act + Means + Purpose = Human Trafficking.

Trafficking graphic 3.JPG

In cases involving children, human trafficking is established if it is shown that the child has been recruited, transported, or harboured for the purpose of exploitation. The exploitation of trafficked persons can take many forms.

Sexual exploitation

Trafficked persons are forced into prostitution, forced to perform sexual acts such as exotic dancing and massage, and forced to participate in the production of pornography.

Forced labour

Forced labour is any work or services which people are forced to do against their will – under the threat of some form of punishment. Forced labour is found in industries such as agriculture and fishing, domestic work, construction, mining, manufacturing, prostitution, and illegal activities often related to the drug industry.

Coerced organ removal

There is a high demand for organs on the black market around the world. Coerced organ removal is often conducted in clandestine clinics, with little or no attention to the person's postoperative care and little payment to the person.

It is important to remember that no one can legally consent to being exploited. For example, someone agrees to move to Canada because they have been promised employment in a legitimate job. Instead, they are coerced through fear and threats of violence, into forced labour. The fact that an individual may have consented to work in Canada cannot be used as a way to justify their working in conditions as described above.

How does human trafficking differ from human smuggling?

The crime of human trafficking does not require the movement of a person across a border. By definition human smuggling is a transnational crime. Human smuggling, also known as migrant smuggling, means helping someone enter a country illegally in exchange for some form of payment. This can involve dangerous travel conditions or the use of false identity documents under the consent of the smuggled person. People may be smuggled individually or as part of a large group.

In Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act makes human smuggling an offence.

This information applies to British Columbia, Canada. Last reviewed for legal accuracy by People's Law School, 2014.



Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence Human Trafficking in Canada © People's Law School is, except for the images, licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 2.5 Canada Licence.
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