Cablegate: Ontario and Human Trafficking: A Work in Progress

DE RUEHON #0165/01 1491932
R 281932Z MAY 08




E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: (A) Toronto 24 (B) Toronto 152

Sensitive But Unclassified - Please Protect Accordingly.

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: Over the past year, the Toronto Police Service
(TPS) has been working more effectively to combat Trafficking in
Persons (TIP) in the Greater Toronto Area. Law enforcement contacts
within the TPS Sex Crimes Unit tell us initiatives to increase
awareness of TIP related issues have begun to take hold. TPS
TIP-related initiatives include training, lectures, community
awareness sessions, and the creation of a new "Special Victims
Section" within the TPS Sex Crimes Unit. Toronto authorities have
excellent communication and investigative relationships with U.S.
law enforcement agencies. Looking forward, Ontario law enforcement,
NGOs, and social service providers aspire to establish a TIP office
within the Ontario government, modeled on British Columbia's Office
to Combat Trafficking in Persons (OCTIP). END SUMMARY.

Toronto Police Initiatives

2. (U) Toronto Police recently established a "Special Victims
Section" within the TPS' Sex Crimes Unit to identify and rescue
young persons involved in the sex industry, investigate criminal
acts committed against sex trade workers, and support the victims
(including, but not limited to victims of human trafficking).

3. (U) TPS has also organized community mobilization strategies and
awareness sessions. Toronto Police have established a partnership
with the Salvation Army to provide emergency shelter for victims.
In November 2006, TPS began conducting annual information sessions
about Sex Crimes and Trafficking in Persons for vulnerable homeless
and battered women. Toronto Police have also begun working with
shelters and social service organizations to proactively identify
trafficking victims, and provide early referrals to medical
providers, assistance organizations, and Citizenship and Immigration
Canada for the provision of temporary residence permits. According
to a TPS presentation at a May 2008 human trafficking seminar in
Toronto, this approach has helped police build more trusting
relationships with shelters and other NGO service providers.

Investigative Challenges

4. (U) Adequate medium and long term housing options for potential
TIP victims in Ontario are hard to find. Shelters provide a
reasonable short term solution but are not a viable option for
extended periods. The housing issue is complicated further as many
victims do not have a network of family and friends to call on in
Canada (or abroad) in time of need. Police believe the lack of
housing options may also discourage victims from coming forward to
law enforcement.

5. (U) Police and NGO contacts report heavy suspicion of police
among potential TIP victims. They attribute this to widespread
police corruption in the source countries of trafficked persons.
However, these same contacts also acknowledged that Canadian law
enforcement may sometimes look at TIP victims as "suspects" first,
and not as victims of crime.

First TIP Conviction in Ontario

6. (U) On May 13, 2008, a Niagara Falls, Ontario man admitted using
threats and intimidation to force two teenage girls, aged 14 and 15
respectively, to provide prostitution related services for C$300 per
hour over a two year period. Crown prosecutors estimate he earned
approximately C$400,000 through the two women. The guilty plea was
the first under a 2005 federal law criminalizing certain
prostitution related human trafficking offences. The defendant is
expected to be sentenced in the next few weeks (ref (B)).

Law Enforcement Cooperation

7. (SBU) Toronto Police contacts tell us that although TIP is an
issue that crosses national and international jurisdictions, in
their view Canada lacks a comprehensive strategy to combat TIP. TPS
contacts note that the RCMP (Canada's federal Police force, which
provides local and provincial law enforcement coverage for much of
Canada outside of Ontario) provides training to other law
enforcement agencies and conducts awareness sessions with community
agencies and NGOs. A year ago the federal Parliamentary Standing
Committee on the Status of Women issued a report containing 33
recommendations including that the federal government increase

TORONTO 00000165 002 OF 002

resources for dedicated, multi-jurisdictional units to investigate
potential trafficking offences. The federal government has not yet
established those dedicated, multi-jurisdictional units.

8. (U) To improve their access to TIP-related information, TPS
officers have established working partnerships with federal
authorities including: Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the
RCMP, and Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC). TPS also
cooperates with U.S. law enforcement agencies, including
Toronto-based Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) officers.

B.C. Office Seen As Model for Ontario

9. (U) Human trafficking specialists in Toronto law enforcement view
British Columbia as the most advanced province in Canada's TIP
prevention efforts. They view the 2007 establishment of the B.C.
Office to Combat Trafficking in Person (OCTIP), a centralized
coordination and clearinghouse for anti-TIP efforts in the province,
as an initiative worth emulating in Ontario. OCTIP's "human rights
centered" approach, which emphasizes the protection of trafficked
persons while simultaneously assisting police and prosecutors,
offers a useful model to other provinces. Ontario TIP specialists
were also extremely supportive of a University of British Columbia
initiative to compile the first nationwide database of TIP

10. (SBU) COMMENT: The passage of strengthened federal
anti-trafficking statutes in 2005 has been followed (with some
delay) by increased provincial and local law enforcement efforts.
Official efforts to balance victim protection and aggressive
prosecution are beginning to bear modest successes both in terms of
prosecutions and improved services for trafficking victims. The
Greater Toronto Area, by virtue of its status as Canada's largest
urban area, multicultural demographic (more than half of Toronto
area residents were not born in Canada), and large number of law
enforcement agencies, will remain an important center of gravity in
the development of Canada's TIP prevention strategy. END COMMENT.


© Scoop Media

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