Proposed amendments to An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons)

Backgrounder

The Government is committed to strengthening its efforts to combat human trafficking and to better protect its victims, who are often among society’s most vulnerable.

Former Private Member’s Bill C-452, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (exploitation and trafficking in persons), received Royal Assent in June 2015, under the previous Parliament, but was not brought into force.

Today, the Government introduced legislation to amend former Private Member’s Bill C-452, so that only the provisions that do not raise significant concerns under the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would come into force.

These provisions would amend the Criminal Code to:

  • Help prosecutors prove one of the elements of the trafficking offence, i.e., that the accused exercised control, direction or influence over the movements of a victim, by establishing that the accused lived with or was habitually in the company of an exploited person.
  • Put the onus on offenders convicted of human trafficking offences to prove that their property is not proceeds of crime in certain circumstances.
  • Correct a technical discrepancy between the English and French definitions of the term exploitation for the purposes of the human trafficking offences.

The former Bill C-452 also required that judges impose consecutive sentences to offenders who are sentenced at the same time for trafficking in persons offence and any other offence arising out of the same event(s). This provision, when combined with the mandatory minimum penalties for human trafficking offences enacted by former Bill C-36 (Protection of Communities and Exploited Persons Act), could result in disproportionately lengthy sentences. Such lenghty sentences could be considered contrary to section 12 of the Charter.

Bill C-452’s mandatory consecutive sentencing requirement would not be brought into force at this time. It would be considered as part of the Minister’s ongoing broader criminal justice system review, which includes consideration of mandatory sentencing provisions.

The Government of Canada is committed to ensuring that the criminal justice system is just, compassionate, accessible and fair, and that it promotes a safe, peaceful and prosperous Canada. To transform the criminal justice system, the Government of Canada is undertaking a thorough examination of this system, including a review of its mandatory minimum penalties.


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