Human Trafficking

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God reveals himself throughout the Bible as a God of justice, a God who hates injustice and who sees and hears the suffering of the oppressed: “he does not ignore the cry of the afflicted” (Psalm 9:12b, NIV). God commands his people to “seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow” (Isaiah 1:17-18, NRSV), calling us to be his agents, empowered by the Holy Spirit, to demonstrate Christ’s love for the entire world.

The Issue


Trafficking in persons is a serious crime that involves:

  • the movement of people across or within borders;
  • threats or use of force, coercion and deception; and exploitation, whether forced labour, forced prostitution, or other forms of servitude.

Trafficking in persons is not migrant smuggling. Smuggled migrants are usually free once they arrive at their destination; trafficking victims are not.

Trafficking in persons has been described as a modern form of slavery. It is a serious human rights violation and is reported by the United Nations to be the fastest growing form of transnational organized crime.

The UN estimates that up to one million people are trafficked throughout the world each year. While anyone can be a victim, women and children are reportedly the primary victims.

Identifying victims of trafficking can be difficult. The victims may appear to be illegal migrants when intercepted at the border. Those involved in prostitution may appear to be willing participants. Victims may be too terrified to contact the police. Victims may not be able to ask for help because many may not speak either English or French. Traffickers often control their victims by threatening to harm them or their families in their countries of origin should victims attempt to flee or contact authorities in Canada.

Human trafficking is the third largest criminal industry in the world, outranked only by arms and drug dealing. The United Nations estimates that trafficking in persons generates $7 to $10 billion annually for traffickers.
The number of people trafficked each year is estimated by most experts to be in the millions. Given its current growth rate, which is fuelled by its high profitability, low investigation rate and low prosecution rate, human trafficking is expected by some to take over drug trafficking as the second largest criminal industry in the world within the next decades.

Current Status

EFC released a report on human trafficking on April 17, 2009. A PDF version is available online for free in the EFC Resource Library. The EFC sent MPs an executive summary of the report. MPs were invited to view the full report and were also given a copy of the movie, Amazing Grace, about Christian anti-slavery advocate William Wilberforce. (More on this film, below.) The EFC is inviting Canadians to read the report and then to pray for quick action on Bill C-268, an act to amend the Criminal Code to help end human trafficking.

The EFC has publicly endorsed Bill C-268, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (minimum sentences involving trafficking of persons under the age of 18). The private members’ bill, introduced in the House of Commons by MP Joy Smith, proposes mandatory minimums for child trafficking. The amended Bill C-268 was reported back to the House of Commons for Third Reading on June 9, 2009. Debate on the bill will resume when the House sits in September 2009, barring an election or Parliament being prorogued. On passage at third reading, the bill would be referred to the Senate for their consideration in a similar process. The EFC’s endorsement can be seen on MP Smith’s website.

Trafficking in Persons Report 2009: Read the ninth annual Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. Department of State here. See more resources on this issue by clicking Resources at the top right of this webpage.

Canada, along with the international community, has condemned trafficking in persons as an abhorrent form of modern-day slavery and a fundamental human rights abuse. The most comprehensive attempt to combat trafficking is the UN Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, which Canada signed in 2000. The Protocol sets out measures to prevent trafficking, prosecute offenders, support and protect victims and cooperate internationally to achieve those objectives.

In fulfillment of its commitments under the Trafficking Protocol, Canada has enacted a number of laws to combat and prevent trafficking. New provisions in the Criminal Code specifically criminalize trafficking in persons, and the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act targets cross-border trafficking in persons.  The federal government has also established an Interdepartmental Working Group on Trafficking in Persons, with the mandate to coordinate and enhance efforts to combat trafficking and to develop a national strategy. However, the Canadian government has yet to announce or initiate a national action plan to address and combat human trafficking. 

The importance of this issue of human trafficking and the need for a more concerted Canadian effort has been recognized by parliamentarians. In particular, the Status of Women Committee initiated a Study on Human Trafficking throughout the fall 2006 parliamentary session, inviting various government departments, police forces, and non-governmental organizations to present information on human trafficking and make recommendations to the Committee. A private member’s motion (Joy Smith, CPC) was introduced and debated and passed in the House which states:

"That, in the opinion of the House, the trafficking of women and children across international borders for the purposes of sexual exploitation should be condemned, and that the House call on the government to immediately adopt a comprehensive strategy to combat the trafficking of persons worldwide."

This motion passed by a vote of the House of Commons on February 22, 2007.

On February 27, 2007 the House of Commons Standing Committee on the Status of Women released their study on human trafficking. Entitled Turning Outrage into Action to Address Trafficking for the Purpose of Sexual Exploitation in Canada, the study was conducted between October 2006 and February 2007 following consultations with approximately 40 witnesses, including researchers, policy experts, law enforcement, and many organizations that provide victim services and/or are dedicated to raising awareness of the issue.

The EFC held free screenings of Amazing Grace: The William Wilberforce Story for MPs, Senators, Ambassadors and their family and staff on February 7, 2007 and for pastors and church leaders on February 8, 2007. [MORE ON AMAZING GRACE]


Although accurate statistics on human trafficking are hard to obtain, the U.S. State Department estimates that 600,000 to 800,000 people are trafficked across international borders every year.  Of these, 80% are women and girls, and up to 50% are minors.  The International Labour Organization estimates that there are 12.3 million victims of forced labour (including sexual servitude) at any given time; other estimates range from 4 million to 27 million. The RCMP estimates that 600-800 victims are trafficked into Canada each year, and another 1,500 to 2,200 persons are trafficked through Canada to the United States annually.

Trafficking in persons ranks with the drug trade and arms smuggling as a major source of  revenue for organized crime. The U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigations estimates that the trade in human life generates global profits approaching$10 billion annually.


What You Can Do

Responding to the issue.

Many non-governmental organizations across the country are involved in providing support to individuals who have been trafficked into or within Canada.  These victims need housing, medical care, counseling, legal information and assistance, psychological and material assistance, employment, education and training.  Additional resources and better coordination of services are required to appropriately meet these needs.

Other NGOs are actively engaged in rescuing victims of trafficking from their situations of oppression.  One such organization is International Justice Mission, a human rights organization that intervenes in individual cases to rescue victims of violence, sexual exploitation, slavery and oppression. With field offices in 13 countries, including in countries where human trafficking is prevalent, IJM agents have spent thousands of hours infiltrating human trafficking operations and working with government authorities around the world to bring rescue to victims and accountability to the perpetrators.  

What You Can Do

1. Educate Yourself

Learn about modern-day slavery and human trafficking through such Web sites as and

2. Educate Others

Join with a group of friends from your church, school, university campus or neighbourhood to study “Good News About Injustice”, a book which provides concrete guidance on the ways and means the body of Christ can rise up to seek justice throughout the world. (Book and study guide available from Intervarsity Press.)

 3. Become an Agent of Change

Volunteer your time or give your financial support to a group confronting modern-day slavery and human trafficking.



General EFC Resources

  • Submission to the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs Bill C-310: An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Trafficking in persons). Read the submission here. (June 2012)
  • EFC Supports Canadian Plan to Fight Human Trafficking. Read EFC's Press Release here. (June 2012)
  • Seeking Justice, Rescuing the Enslaved: Recommendations for a National Strategy to Combat Human Trafficking. A 32-page report available at (October 2011)
  • Not So Ancient: Human Trafficking and Modern Slavery, a booklet in the EFC's [ACTIVATE] series aimed to raise awareness, particularly for youth and adults. Order bulk copies for your group from the EFC library. (Fall 2009)
  • Human Trafficking: Tragedy and Hope, an informative group of articles in the NovDec issue of the EFC magazine Faith Today, including a column on the topic by EFC President Bruce J. Clemenger. (Fall 2009)


External Resources

RECENT USA RESOURCE: Trafficking in Persons Report 2009: Read the ninth annual Trafficking in Persons Report from the U.S. Department of State.

APAP, Joanna, Peter CULLEN and Felicita MEDVED; “Counteracting Human Trafficking: Protecting the Victims of Trafficking”, Center for European Studies

BOLZ, Jennifer; "Chinese Organized Crime and Illegal Alien Trafficking: Humans as a Cargo"

BRUCKERT, Christine and Colette PARENT; “Organized Crime and Human Trafficking in Canada: Tracing Perceptions and Discourses” 2004

BRUCKERT, Christine and Colette PARENT; “Trafficking in Human Beings and Organized Crime: A Literature Review”, 2002

Canadian Council for Refugees; “Assisting Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings

Canadian Council for Refugees; “Trafficking in women and Girls”, 2003

European Commission; “Assisting Victims of Trafficking in Human Beings”, January 2003

DOLAN, Christine; “The Scope of Human Trafficking” 2002, Intl. Humanitarian Campaign Against the Exploitation of Children

FUTURE GROUP, THE, “Falling short of the mark: An international study on the treatment of human trafficking victims

HERZ, Annette, “Investigating and Prosecuting Trafficking in Human Beings”, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law - Freiburg, Germany, Online at:

HUGHES, Donna M.; “The”Natasha” Trade: The Transnational Shadow Market of Trafficking in Women”, Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 53, No.2, Spring 2000 pp.625-651 online at:

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery - Resources for Teachers Online at:

International Federation Terres des Hommes; “Kids as Commodities? Child Trafficking and what to do about it” May 2004, online at: stopchildtrafficking/downloads/presse/livre_fichier_final.pdf

International Labor Organization (ILO), “First Hand Knowledge, Voices Across the Mekong, Community action against trafficking of children and women, A Good Practice publication”, Bankok International Labor office, 2005

International Labour Organization (ILO); “Yunnan Province China Situation of Trafficking in Children and Women: A Rapid Assessment”,August 2002

JAVATE DE DIOS, Aurora, “Macro-economic Exploitation and their Impact on Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Women and Girls: Issues, Responses and Challenges”, CATW-Asia-Pacific; online at

JORDAN, Ann D.; “The Annotated Guide to the Complete UN Trafficking Protocol” 2002, International Human Rights Law Group

KANGASPUNTA, Kristiina, “Mapping the Inhuman Trade: Preliminary Findings of the Database on Trafficking in Human Beings”; Forum on Crime and Society, vol.3 nos 1 and 2, December 2003 online at:

KELLY, E. And L. REGAN; “Stopping traffic: Exploring the Extent of, and Responses to, Trafficking for Sexual Exploitation in the UK", Police Research Series Paper 125, 2000

KELLY, Liz; “Fertile Fields: Trafficking in Persons in Central Asia" 2005, IOM ($20.00) available through:

KEMPADOO, Kamala, Jyoti SANGHERA and Bandana PATTANAIK, eds., “Trafficking and Prostitution Reconsidered: New Perspectives on Migration, Sex Work and Human Rights”, 2005, Paradigm Publishers, London

LACZKO, Dr. Frank and Dr. Elzbieta GOZDZIAK; “Data and Research on Human Trafficking: A Global Survey” 2005, IOM through:

LANGEVIN, Louise, Marie-Claire BELLEAU; “Trafficking in Women in Canada: A Critical Analysis of the Legal Framework Governing Immigrant Live-in Caregivers and Mail-Order Brides”, October 2000, Faculty of Law, University of Laval

MCDONALD, Lynn, Brooke MOORE and Natalya TIMOSHKINA; “Migrant Sex Workers from Eastern Europe and the Former Soviet Union: The Canadian Case”, November 2000, Centre for Applied Social Research, University of Toronto

MIRIAM, Kathy; “Stopping the Traffic in Women: Power, Agency and Abolition in Feminist Debates over Sex-Trafficking” Journal of Social Philosophy, Vol. 36, No. 1, Spring 2005 online at:

OMELANIUK, Irena, “Trafficking in Human Beings” UN Publication, July 2005 online at:

O’NEIL RICHARD, Amy; “International Trafficking in Women to the United States: A Contemporary Manifestation of Slavery and Organized Crime” Center for the Study of Intelligence, April 2000 online at:

OSCE; “OSCE Action Plan to Combat Trafficking in Human Beings”, Decision No. 557, 24 July 2003, Document number PC.DEC/557 Online at Accessed March 20, 2007

PEARSON, Elaine;” The need for effective witness protection in the prosecution of traffickers: a human rights framework for witness protection”, Anti-Slavery International, February 2001, online at:

PHINNEY, Alison; “Trafficking of Women and Children for sexual exploitation in the Americas”, 2001, OAS online at:

Philippine Women Centre of B.C., “Canada: The New Frontier for Filipino Mail-Order Brides”, 2000 Accessed March 19, 2007

POLARIS PROJECT, “Law Enforcement Toolkit on Trafficking in Persons”, Washington, D.C. Undated.

PORTER, Eduardo, “The Search fo Illegal Immigrants Stops at the Workplace”, The New York Times, March 5, 2006,”Economic View” from

POULIN, Richard, “Prostitution: Towards a Canadian policy of abolition” June 4th, 2005; online:

POULIN, Richard, “Globalization and the Sex Trade: Trafficking and the Commodification of Women and Children”, Feb. 12, 2004, online at

POULIN, Richard, La mondialisation des industries du sexe; Prostitution, pornographie, traite des femmes et des enfants; Collection L’interligne, Ottawa, 2004

Toronto Network Against Trafficking in Women; “Trafficking in Women including Thai Migrant Sex Workers in Canada” online at

SHARMA, Nandita; “Travel Agency: A Critique of Anti-Trafficking Campaigns”, Refuge Vol. 21, no. 3 pp 53-65 Accessed March 19, 2007

TRUONG, Than-Dam and Maria BELEN ANGELES; “Searching for Best Practices to Counter Human Trafficking in Africa: A Focus on Women and Children” UNESCO, March 2005 online at:

UN “Protocol Against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime” 2000. Accessed March 19, 2007

UN “Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, especially Women and Children, Supplementing the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organized Crime” 2000. Accessed March 19, 2007

UN, Economic and Social Council, “Recommended Principles and Guidelines on Human Rights and Human Trafficking: Report of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to the Economic and Social Council”, Substantive session 2002, New York, 1-26 July, 2002. Accessed March 19, 2007

UN, Economic and Social Council; “Integration of the Human Rights of Women and the Gender Perspective: Violence Against Women”, 2000, Document E/CN.4?2000/68, 29 February 2000. Available from the UN’s internet site

UN Development Program, Romania, Law Enforcement Best Practices in relation to combating Human Trafficking, 2004

U.S. Dept. Of Justice, Civil Rights Division, “Report on Activities to Combat Human Trafficking: Fiscal Years 2001-2005” Online at

U.S. Dept. Of Justice; “Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons” September 2005 online at

U.S Dept. Of Justice, “Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons, Washington,D.C., September 2006; online at Accessed March 20, 2007

U.S. Dept. Of Justice, “Report to Congress from Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales on U.S. Government Efforts to Combat Trafficking in Persons in Fiscal Year 2004”, Washington D.C., July 2005 online at Accessed March 19, 2007

U.S. Dept. Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice; “Characteristics of Chinese Human Smugglers” Aug. 2004, online at Accessed March 20, 2007

U.S. Dept. Of Justice “Trafficking in Persons and worker exploitation task Force” online at: Accessed March 20, 2007

VENKATRAMAN, Bharathi A. “Human Trafficking: A guide to Detecting, Investigating, and Punishing Modern-Day Slavery”; The Police Chief, vol. 70, no.12, December 2003 online at Accessed March 20, 2007

Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children: “The Struggle between Migration Control and Victim Protection: The U.K. Approach to Human Trafficking” online at:

Internet Sites

International Labor Organization (ILO) of the United Nations

The Salvation Army in Canada, an EFC affiliate denomination, has a good collection of resources at Its U.S. counterpart has a specific office to deal with Human Trafficking issues

Interesting E-Newsletter and web resource for Combating Human Trafficking

Complete listing and guide to various sites Prepared by IOM, “Annotated Guide to Internet-Based Counter Trafficking Resources

Excellent Web Portal for issues on Human Trafficking

Polaris Project, Law Enforcement toolkit portal at:

A Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) webpage of frequently asked questions about human trafficking

SOLWODI (Solidarity with women in distress) Newsletter at:
They are a faith based organization assisting in the re-integration of victims of trafficking, especially women

UNESCO Internet tool to collect worldwide data on trafficking at:

Winrock International, an NGO working with victims of Trafficking

Project Respect has links to various articles on the issue

Canadian Dept. of Justice has a series of links to various articles and papers

Michigan State University Library has a site devoted to articles and links

List of services available from MOSAIC, Vancouver