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Senator Ataullahjan Introduces Bill to Take Action Against Human Trafficking

OTTAWA, ON – March 17, 2021. – Yesterday, Senator Salma Ataullahjan introduced a Senate Public Bill in the Senate of Canada taking action against perpetrators of human trafficking, in collaboration with Colin Carrie (Member of Parliament - Oshawa) and Arnold Viersen (Member of Parliament - Peace River-Westlock).

The proposed legislation, Bill S-228, advances a revision to the Criminal Code of Canada that amends the definition of human exploitation to no longer include a requirement to prove a victim’s personal fear for safety. The proposed amendment provides a simplified definition that offers victims and Crown prosecutors a better chance at achieving justice and fighting back against modern-day slavery.

According to Statistics Canada, 1,700 incidents of human trafficking were reported by Canadian police services over the past decade. However, human trafficking is often subject to underreporting in official data given its difficulty to detect and other influences. If Bill S-228 becomes law, criminal prosecutors will have more flexibility in their pursuit of charging and convicting perpetrators of human trafficking.

Speaking on the bill, Senator Ataullahjan stated that, “By amending our Criminal Code to reflect the international definition of trafficking in persons outlined in the Palermo Protocol, we enable the Crown to efficiently convict human traffickers. This bill is a means to protect our children, especially young girls, from being targeted in plain sight.”

With reference to the effects of the bill, Carrie said, “It is the moral duty of lawmakers to provide Crown prosecutors with the legal tools they need to take the fight against human trafficking directly to those responsible and to remove barriers within the language of the Criminal Code of Canada that interfere with bringing human traffickers to justice, which this bill aims to accomplish.”

On the issue of supporting victims, MP Viersen commented, "For too long in Canada, the weight of a human trafficking conviction has rested on the testimony of a victim instead of the actions of the trafficker. Bill S-228 will assist survivors, increase convictions, and bring Canada's human trafficking offences in line with the Palermo Protocol."

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