Canada must do more to arrest and convict human traffickers who have helped make the country a “sex tourism” destination for American tourists, a U.S. government report released Wednesday suggests.
The U.S. State Department’s 2008 Trafficking in Persons Report assesses government efforts to control trafficking in 153 countries.
The claim that Canada is a destination for sex tourists is based on reports from non-governmental organizations, the report said.
Sex tourism is of concern because it often involves the exploitation of people, especially women and children, forced into the sex business.
Canada is a source, transit and destination country for trafficked people, the report said, but it did not provide specific numbers. It said victims arrive in Canada from Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, Vietnam, South Korea, Russia and Ukraine.
Canadian girls and women, many of them aboriginal, are also trafficked within the country to work in sex-for-money operations, the report said.
The report said Canada is still lagging in terms of enforcing anti-trafficking initiatives but has met the minimum international standards to fight the problem.
“Over the last year, Canada increased victim protection and prevention efforts but demonstrated limited progress on law enforcement efforts against trafficking offenders,” the report said.
There are more than 100 Canadians charged with child exploitation in other countries, but only two people are being prosecuted in Canada, Canadian government numbers cited in the report show.
The report recommends Canada:
Work harder to investigate, prosecute and convict traffickers.
Work harder to investigate and prosecute Canadians suspected of committing child sex tourism crimes abroad.
Increase brothel raids and other proactive police actions.
Improve protection and services for foreign trafficking victims.
Human trafficking includes the luring or abduction of people — mostly women and girls — across international borders or in their own countries to work in the sex trade or other dismal labour situations.
U.S. estimates about 800,000 people, up to half of them children, a year are trafficked across borders, but millions more are trafficked within their own countries.
“This year, millions of men, women and children around the globe will have their lives ruined by human traffickers. This form of modern-day slavery shocks the conscience of every civilized nation,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice wrote in the report’s introduction.
The International Labor Organization has estimated that there are 12.3 million people in forced labour and sexual servitude while other estimates range from four million to 27 million.