THE STANDING SENATE COMMITTEE ON LEGAL AND CONSTITUTIONAL AFFAIRS
OTTAWA, Wednesday, June 13, 2012
The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs, to which was referred Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons), met this day at 4:15 p.m. to give consideration to the bill.
Senator Bob Runciman (Chair) in the chair.
The Chair: Good afternoon and welcome everyone, including members of the public who are viewing today's proceedings of the Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs on the CPAC television network.
Today we are continuing our consideration of Bill C-310, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (trafficking in persons). This bill was first introduced in the House of Commons on October 3 of last year by Joy Smith, Member of Parliament for Kildonan—St. Paul in the province of Manitoba.
The summary of the bill states that it amends the Criminal Code to add the offence of trafficking in persons to the offences committed outside Canada for which Canadian citizens or permanent residents may be prosecuted in Canada. It also amends the code to add factors that the court may consider when determining whether an accused exploits another person.
Bill C-310 was referred to the committee by the Senate on May 15 of this year for further examination. This is our second meeting on this bill.
These hearings are open to the public and also available via webcast on the parl.gc.ca website. You can find more information on the schedule of witnesses on the website under Senate committees.
For our first panel I would like to welcome and introduce the witnesses. From Beyond Borders is Mark Erik Hecht, Senior Legal Counsel. Beyond Borders is a national, bilingual, volunteer organization advancing the rights of children everywhere to be free from sexual abuse and exploitation.
Julia Beazley is a policy analyst with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada. The fellowship is the national association of evangelical Christians in Canada.
I understand both of you have opening statements and we will begin with Mr. Hecht.
Please proceed, Mr. Hecht.
Mark Erik Hecht, Senior Legal Counsel, Beyond Borders Inc.: As was mentioned, Beyond Borders or Au-delà des frontières is a national, bilingual, non-governmental organization working in solidarity with sexually exploited children. I am the senior legal counsel and I am the co-founder of the organization. I founded Beyond Borders with my colleague Rosalind Prober, who is from Manitoba, back in 1996. Our organization is also the Canadian chapter for a larger organization based in Bangkok called ECPAT, which is an acronym for End Child Prostitution, Pornography and Trafficking of Children for Sexual Purposes. Both our organizations have similar mandates to combat, among other crimes, cross-border sexual offences against children, which includes child sex trafficking and is why I am here.
Bill C-310 proposes that human trafficking would be added to the list of extraterritorial offences currently included in the Criminal Code, which would allow us to prosecute Canadians who commit these offences outside of our home jurisdiction. Since its start, Beyond Borders has supported this bill.
Extraterritorial crimes against children committed by Canadians is something that Beyond Borders is very passionate about and an issue we have been following since 1996, which was the UN's world congress against the commercial sexual exploitation of children that took place in Stockholm, Sweden.
Shortly before the UN world congress, the foreign affairs minister for Canada, who was Lloyd Axworthy at the time, introduced Bill C-27. Bill C-27 attempted to make a series of crimes against children extraterritorial, which again meant that we would be able to prosecute Canadians who were committing these crimes against Canadian children or foreign children outside of our home jurisdiction.
It is interesting now with this new bill, which would essentially add another offence, to look back on what Bill C-27 has done and to see if we can learn any lessons from that experience. In keeping with the interests of time, I will just mention perhaps two or three lessons that we can learn.
The first is when Bill C-27 was introduced one issue that came up was whether or not it was actually constitutional to allow Canada to prosecute Canadians who are committing crimes outside of our home territory. I think this issue has now been put to rest. Without getting into detail, there is a case that went up to the court of appeal out West, the Klassen case, which was a case of a sex tourist, and the court did hold that it is constitutional to have extraterritorial offences. Therefore I think that issue has been put to rest.
Second, we learned that extraterritorial offences are very expensive to investigate and to prosecute. One thing to keep in mind as we move forward is if we do want Bill C-310 to be a success we really have to put some thought into the kind of resources that would be needed both locally and internationally at our embassies in order to investigate these trafficking crimes that are being committed by Canadians outside of Canada, and ultimately how these individuals will be prosecuted.
Third, once these offenders are caught and prosecuted and hopefully convicted, we then have an issue of the post-incarceration reality, which is that many of these individuals who commit these sex offences against children ended up being released on very short sentences and sometimes never being sentenced at all. Also, they undoubtedly had their passports returned to them as soon as they get out of jail. That would be something that we would be interested in following or monitoring or recommending, which is that if people are convicted of sexual crimes against children such as trafficking across borders that upon release we should not necessarily provide them with their passport, which would permit them to commit crimes again outside of our reach.
Finally, the other recommendation that we would make is, to put it into the context of Canada's other international obligations, Bill C-310 actually very much supports Canada's international commitments with respect to the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child and other optional protocols and other human rights treaties. It is important to recognize that the Convention on the Rights of the Child now has a new optional protocol that would allow individuals to actually complain or launch complaints directly to a committee on the rights of the child. At this point Canada has not yet committed itself to this optional protocol, which is something we would recommend because it would actually further the interests and the objectives of the bill.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Hecht.
Ms. Beazley, please proceed.
Julia Beazley, Policy Analyst, The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada: Good afternoon. As was mentioned I work as a policy analyst with The Evangelical Fellowship of Canada Centre for Faith and Public Life here in Ottawa. In this role I research, write and speak on issues that relate to poverty, homelessness, prostitution and human trafficking. These are issues that are intimately interrelated.
The EFC is the national association of evangelical Christians, gathered together for influence, impact and identity in ministry and public witness. Since 1964, the EFC has provided a national forum for evangelicals and a constructive voice for biblical principles in life and society. In addition to 40 evangelical denominations our affiliates include 65 ministry organizations, 33 educational institutions and 750 individual congregations, who uphold a common statement to faith.
We engage with the government and in the courts on issues that are of concern to our community. This has included appearances before committees and interventions in the courts at all levels, including the Supreme Court of Canada. We have also produced three reports on the subjects of human trafficking and prostitution for distribution to members of Parliament and to the public.
We would like to commend MP Joy Smith for her tireless and tenacious efforts in combatting human trafficking and ensuring justice and care for victims. We are grateful for the opportunity to speak in the support of this important bill.
Our belief that God has created all people in his image and loves each one compels us to both announce and to guard the fundamental dignity of each person. We understand that all people should be treated as creatures with inherent worth, not as objects or playthings for another's gratification. God reveals himself throughout the Bible to be a God of justice, who sees and hears the suffering of the oppressed. He commands his people to rescue the oppressed, to defend the orphan and plead the cause of the widow.
Trafficking in persons is a serious violation of human rights and is reported by the UN to be the fastest growing form of transnational organized crime. The U.S. State Department's Trafficking in Persons Report in 2011 identifies Canada as a source transit and destination country for men, women and children who are victims of sex trafficking and forced labour. Increasingly, Canadian women and girls are being trafficked for use in commercial sexual exploitation across the country.
Canada is also a significant source country for child sex tourists, who travel abroad to countries like Cambodia to engage in sex acts with children. In Canada and the U.S., the average age of forced entry into prostitution is about 12 years of age; in countries like Cambodia, it is 5 or 6. This has to stop. Children should not be for sale, not here and not overseas.
Bill C-310 will ensure that Canadians who engage in human trafficking are held accountable to Canadian laws regardless of where the offences were committed. It introduces extraterritorial jurisdiction to trafficking offences so that Canadian citizens or permanent residents who offend abroad can be prosecuted here at home. The bill also enhances the definition of sexual exploitation by providing evidentiary assistance for the court to consider when determining what constitutes exploitation.
Many victims of trafficking exist in circumstances of poverty, isolation and marginalization that make them vulnerable to predators. When Canadians are the predators we owe a duty to ourselves, to our nation's reputation and to our brothers and sisters across the globe to do all we can to get those predators off the streets. Canadians must not feel they can set up shop outside of our borders, in locations that may not have the criminal justice system to address their crimes, and from there traffic or exploit the vulnerable without fear of prosecution when they return to Canadian soil. This bill helps to take that safe haven away from predators.
The current definition of exploitation in the Criminal Code is not sufficient and I have heard from many groups who work with victims that the “fear of safety” element has led to difficulty in obtaining convictions in the court. While it is often the case that the coercion suffered by victims consists of brutal physical violence, it is not always so. Sometimes the control and coercion is far more subtle, yet no less effective in achieving its objectives. These forms of exploitation can be more difficult to prosecute under the current definition. The additional considerations will allow for a more comprehensive understanding and assessment of exploitation that will not be limited by the fear of safety requirement. This is especially important for gaining convictions in cases of sexual exploitation.
We support the Bill C-310 as passed unanimously in the House of Commons and feel it is critical that it become law so that the additional protections it offers become a reality for victims. This is an important moment for Canada. As you know, last week the government introduced the National Action Plan to Combat Human Trafficking. This is a significant development because up until this point efforts to fight trafficking have been consistent but lacking in coordination. The EFC, along with other stakeholders, were part of the consultation for the development of this plan and it is clear that the stakeholders were heard.
I wish to emphasize the importance of Bill C-310 being passed so that it can work in conjunction with the National Action Plan. There are no actual legislative changes contained in the plan and I think that is in part because the most immediate legislative changes required, in fact things that many of us stakeholders requested be part of the plan, are addressed by this bill.
Will others be needed? Yes, certainly. I think that as we learn more and as more things come to light addressing trafficking is going to require flexibility, it will require responsiveness, legislatively and otherwise. However, today we are responsible for the important amendments that are before us.
The EFC would like to urge honourable senators to give their full support to Bill C-310. It is a non-partisan bill, as it should be, because fighting trafficking is something that will require all of us.
The Chair: We will begin our questioning with the deputy chair of the committee, Senator Fraser.
Senator Fraser: Thank you for being here. You both know what you are talking about and that is very important for us.
I have one question for each of you on the first round and then more on the second round, but I will limit myself on the first round.
Mr. Hecht, I was particularly struck by your comment on post-incarceration, high risk sex offenders get passports. That is a truly jolting thought that they could just turn around and do it all again. However, have you got a legal opinion on how, once they have paid their official debt to society, Canadian citizens could be deprived of passports and therefore of their right to travel? How could we do that and still be in conformity with the Charter?
Mr. Hecht: I am not sure we could literally remove their passports; however, we do confine what people who commit crimes against children can do once they have served their time. For example, we put them on a sex offender registry so the issue is who has access to this sex registry? Is it possible that other countries should have access to our sex offender registry? At which point, if they obtain their passport and go to a jurisdiction where they have been known, or where Canadian authorities have known that this is where they may find some of their victims, they will not be welcome there. There are ways of controlling their travel without necessarily removing their right to have a passport.
I just mentioned the passport example but, again, those who are on the sex offender registry right now could change their names. They are legally allowed to do that. You have someone who has been convicted of crimes against children, perhaps multiple crimes against children, and upon release they could change their names, get a passport in someone else's name, fly around the world and we have no control over that. We at Beyond Borders feel that is a bit of a gap.
An example we often bring up is the Ernest Fenwick MacIntosh case, which some of you may be familiar with. This is an individual who, while Canada was looking for him and he had an arrest warrant in Canada, was living abroad and getting his passport renewed at the Canadian embassy every couple of years. The fact is that outside of our country but not outside of our jurisdiction, at our embassies abroad, they do not even have access to our sex offender registry of Canadians. These are gaps that can certainly limit the possibility of people who commit crimes like sex trafficking or sex tourism to continue to offend upon release.
Senator Fraser: That is very interesting. For lack of time I will go now to Ms. Beazley, although we could spend the next two hours just talking about that.
Ms. Beazley, you suggest that further legislative changes will be needed. Can you give us any idea of what you are talking about?
Ms. Beazley: For example, we started with Irwin Cotler's bill and then MP Smith introduced Bill C-268 for mandatory minimum sentences for trafficking in children. It is a growing issue. We become more aware of different means used by traffickers and different considerations. As these cases wind their way through the courts there may be things that come up that have to do with sentencing or different considerations like that. I think this will be evolving.
Senator Fraser: Were you really just stating a fact of life?
Ms. Beazley: Yes.
Senator Fraser: Is this a work that will always be in progress rather than hinting at very specific things we could put on our agenda right away?
Ms. Beazley: Perhaps I was not clear enough. My point was that I think the issues dealt with in this bill are addressed well and this bill should be passed because those changes need to take effect. That does not preclude the fact that there will likely be other things that will come up down the road.
Senator White: I think in the case you referred to, Mr. Hecht, there had been no convictions so probably the individual would not have been in the registry yet anyway. However, that brings me to my question. Graham James and Karla Homolka are probably better examples were they were in the registry and still were able to get passports and travel to countries where it may be high risk.
First, have you given consideration to whether we should be looking at ex parte trials for people who refuse to come back to this country to allow us to convict and put them into the registry? We have the ability to bring them back from some countries if they are convicted of such an offence, unlike the situation if they are charged with such an offence.
Second, have you given any consideration to legislation in other countries like Switzerland introduced in 2010, which is immediate expulsion legislation for individuals who are residents or citizens of Canada but not a primary resident or citizen there and are immediately expelled to their home country?
Mr. Hecht: With respect to the first issue of ex parte trial, this is something on which we have done research and found very little evidence of it being successful in Canada. The threshold generally in order to be found guilty of a crime, even if it would be a lesser offence with the person not even being in the country, is a difficult threshold. A lot of the judiciary has trouble with that. However, it is something we have looked at and something that certainly we would continue to examine as a possibility.
With respect to your comment about the immediate expulsion, no, we have not done any research on that. It is something I will bring back and examine. Thank you for that.
Senator Baker: On the ex parte question, that means in secret, without notifying anybody. Of course your response was if it were not inter parte it would be very difficult to do under the criminal law.
I have not really turned my mind to this, I am sorry, but listening to you is rather interesting. I recall reading a judgment of the Supreme Court of Canada in which you were one of the intervenors recently, in the last couple of years. Congratulations on that intervention.
Mr. Hecht: Thank you.
Senator Baker: I listened to you speak about extending the jurisdiction to another country — extraterritorial jurisdiction. You said it had been successful in the previous amendment to the Criminal Code that involved children. The UN convention had been agreed to, and that was the reason for that inclusion.
I can understand the crimes against humanity and war crimes provision as applying, but to take the same words from those previous provisions and apply them to trafficking in persons, when you read the judgments that you addressed that said yes, we have extraterritorial jurisdiction, it was because of those very conventions and because they interacted with the judgment that, in my humble opinion, went a long way to guaranteeing its constitutionality.
Do you not think it would be a little more difficult under this provision we are amending, 279.01?
Mr. Hecht: It may be, but I think there is a lot of precedent as to why it would likely pass a Charter challenge. It is correct that perhaps the motivation for including the long list of crimes against children as extraterritorial offences was because of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, the optional protocol and the pressure put on our government to ensure our domestic legislation is consistent with our international obligations.
Ultimately, at least in the Klassen case, what the Superior Court in B.C. had to do was to look in and of itself to see whether or not the provision of the Criminal Code met the Charter requirement, and they in fact did. Interestingly enough, no one has appealed that decision. We do not have a Supreme Court of Canada decision on extraterritorial offences. We do not yet. Klassen is the closest that we have.
Plus I think there is generally momentum in the international community that more and more countries are having extraterritorial offences with respect to child protection.
Senator Baker: This is not only about children. The first section could be about adults, section 279.01.
Mr. Hecht: Absolutely. I think that is perhaps something better left to my colleague here to talk about. Beyond Borders exclusively works in the area of children. In that respect, I think we are safe.
In terms of overreaching to include offences against others as extraterritorial crimes, you are correct, there are not a lot of them in the Criminal Code. Perhaps my colleague may have some ideas on that.
Senator Baker: There is a problem, as I recall, in allowing one state to come into another foreign state, investigate and lay charges within that state. There is a very serious problem with that, and the Supreme Court of Canada highlighted that at paragraph 66 of the case Hape and said that Canada does not have jurisdiction to do that.
What do you do in a case like this where you are maybe dealing with an autrefois acquit or an autrefois convict? In my mind, it raises a lot of questions, again just dealing with the adults in this provision and not the children.
Mr. Hecht: What I can say generally is that although there certainly would be issues of sovereignty if we are to go into someone else's jurisdiction and investigate a crime there, if we are invited to do that by the local authorities, that would be fine.
When Bill C-27 was first proposed back in 1996, there was a requirement that we would not be able to prosecute for a crime against a child in another jurisdiction without the consent of that other jurisdiction. We quickly realized there were problems with that because in many cases, especially around the age of consent, the other jurisdictions did not want us to prosecute because they said it was not a crime in their country so why should it be a crime in ours. We were able to overcome that and still maintain the constitutionality of the provision.
I think we would be able to successfully prosecute. However, as I said, there is the outstanding question that has not been resolved at the Supreme Court level as to whether or not any of our extraterritorial offences, short of crimes against humanity, are in fact Charter-safe.
Senator Baker: Very good answers. Put me down on the second round, please. I have one further question.
Senator Boisvenu: Thank you for appearing before the committee. One of the points that I am very much interested in is the monitoring of criminals after they have completed their sentence. These criminals who return to the country are caught and tried, then required to serve their sentence. If there are more victims once they leave prison, we will not have fulfilled our role of protecting children. What interests me with this type of crime is that we find ourselves dealing with people who have permanent deviant behaviour problems.
Experts generally agree that, in the case of pedophilia in particular, this behaviour cannot be treated but only controlled. Our Criminal Code is very weak when it comes to monitoring criminals with permanent problems. It only deals with criminals on a temporary basis, as well as during sentencing and after if they are declared dangerous offenders or long-term offenders.
We know just how hesitant judges are to label people this way, since barely one per cent of criminals are labelled this way and, furthermore, it takes repeated reoffending before the judge will decide to declare them dangerous or long-term offenders. It is only at that point that the offender will be monitored over a longer period of five, 10, 15 or 20 years.
We have 110, which is very archaic in my opinion, because we will only monitor this criminal for about one year. So we are facing a situation where the Criminal Code remains silent on monitoring people with permanent problems. If we cannot monitor them permanently, they will reoffend.
We just banned pardons for pedophiles who have committed sexual assault. The police will have more information in their vehicles when they intercept these individuals near schools. What would you two suggest with respect to monitoring these people who have permanent problems to ensure that fewer children are assaulted by criminals who are reoffending?
Mr. Hecht: I do not have a solution. In terms of controlling them long term, as you mentioned, there is a mechanism for that, which is the dangerous offender provisions. You are correct, generally speaking, that the judge is very reluctant to use that.
I think perhaps the response would be to offer greater opportunities, in my case when we talk about children, for the parents to be able to protect the children, which goes to opening up the sex offender registry, which is another debate perhaps for another day. It is something that Beyond Borders has put a lot of thought into.
Senator Boisvenu: What is your view on opening the sex offender registry?
Mr. Hecht: Our position is that it should not be broadly open the way it is in some U.S. states whereby, essentially, you can go onto your home computer, type in your address and get the address of the closest sex offender in your community. We need more than we have now because right now, essentially, no one can get the information other than law enforcement.
There are things in between. For example, what some states have done is allowed individuals to go into a police station with a purpose. For example, if they are moving into a new neighbourhood with young children and they want to see if within that area code there are any convicted sex offenders, they can get that information from the police. You would pay a fee or something of that nature. There are other mechanisms in place.
If we cannot control the individual — and perhaps there is a good reason legally as to why we may not want to put someone in prison for an indefinite period of time — then we have to provide the tools to those who are meant to protect the children, to provide them with a greater array of resources in order to ensure the protection is made. That would be my response to that.
Ms. Beazley: Most figures will suggest that 80 per cent of victims of trafficking for the purposes of sexual exploitation are women and children. They are not all minors.
I think maybe different mechanisms are required to deal with offences against children and against adults. As you say, there is something more fundamentally disordered when we are talking about offences against children that require different mechanisms and different means of addressing those behaviours, whereas offences against older children or people of age is more of a criminal element.
That is what I was alluding to in Senator Fraser's question, the idea that as these cases are brought forward and work their way through the courts, there will be a lot of things we will have to learn and adapt to in the way individuals are sentenced and how these cases proceed. I think that will be part of the learning process. Is there mandatory therapy? What do we build into these sentences? I think these things in some sense are a bit outside the purview of this bill in particular, so I do not know I have much more to say to it than that.
The Chair: I want to add that what you are suggesting about making the sex offender registry available, I recall during the Holly Jones abduction and murder in Toronto, I was shown a list from the sex offender registry in that region of the city of Toronto, and it just blew me away in terms of the significant number of sex offenders residing in that area. If a parent was aware of that, I think they may take extra precautions with respect to their children. That may be something that could and should be explored, rather than providing specific names and addresses, which can create its own list of problems.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you. I read your comments, and I have a question for both of you, especially around Bangkok and the few resources that our embassies have to deal with these issues. It saddens me that we have not had many charges on sex tourism, just five. I think those were fortuitous; there was not much investigation that took place on the ground.
This bill is very important. I do not think there is anyone that does not support this bill. What I am struggling with, because you have had some experience, if someone is living here — that is how they will be charged here — how do we bring the victim here? How will we provide services to the victim? Judges will not convict by heresy. The person who has been hurt must be here. Perhaps we could do it through video conferencing, I do not know. I am wondering if you have given some thought to that or have any experience of what other countries are doing.
Mr. Hecht: With respect to children, what other countries have done, as you have mentioned, video conferencing is one option, or there is also providing victim support services or working with grassroots NGOs in that community who work with victims to provide the local services they may need in order for the child to be comfortable enough to testify. What does not work is putting them on a plane and flying them here. The evidence suggests that when they get here, they are so overwhelmed by the whole experience that often they do not provide the reliable or credible information needed for the prosecution.
There are things that we could learn from other jurisdictions that may work in Canada. I agree with you that the handful of convictions we had for Bill C-27 offences were mostly luck, not to say that there was not excellent police work done, but I think it was done mostly after the person was caught.
As you mentioned, there are scant resources available in our embassies abroad, but what I find interesting when I have done research on this, we have a lot of liaison officers in embassies abroad. The problem is that the vast majority of them are spending their entire time working on drug offences. Crimes against children or human rights crimes are not even on their list. Again, that is not a criticism because obviously they have a lot to work on, but it seems it is often overlooked in favour of drug crimes or weapons offences, trafficking of drugs and weapons as opposed to trafficking of people.
I think, again, with this bill in place, once it becomes law, perhaps organizations like mine can then lobby the government to ensure more resources are in place at the embassies to do that kind of work.
Senator Jaffer: If you lobby for resources when this bill becomes effective, what kind of resources would you lobby for?
Mr. Hecht: We would want the liaison officers, which are mostly all RCMP officers, to be trained on trafficking, such as how to identify a trafficking victim or investigate a trafficking crime within our own standards so that when they are tried in Canada, it means our constitutional thresholds to ensure if there was an omission or if they provided evidence, it was in keeping with the protection they have, such as the right to counsel, et cetera.
Training of the liaison officers is something we have supported for a long time, and I think with this bill in place, it may provide us with another opportunity to do that.
Ms. Beazley: If I may, my understanding as I read through the national action plan is that some of that is built into it. There is a lot more intentional working with other jurisdictions, liaising with other governments, equipping our embassies and training our officers wherever they are so they know what they are looking for and what to do when they find it.
Senator Jaffer: Can you provide an example? I tried to find one but I was not successful. That would be helpful, both for sex tourism and human trafficking. In the national action plan, are they looking at liaison officers? Are they looking at helping the victims in those areas abroad?
Ms. Beazley: My understanding is yes. I would have to get back to you on that because I do not actually have the plan with me here, but I can find that for you.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you for your help.
Senator Di Nino: First, I must state that Bill C-310 is a very good bill and we should pass it, but I think you will both agree that it is a very modest step in a huge problem. It is astonishing that in the 21st century we are talking about human slavery, because that is really what it is, particularly with respect to children. I am sympathetic with what you are saying, but it seems to me that we are not really getting to the issue of how we deal with this horrible crime that has grown — maybe one of you can give us some statistics — hugely in the last number of years, even as we learn today in modern society what this really means and the destruction it causes.
Mr. Hecht, let me talk to you first. You have the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. Is that a strong enough document to deal with that particularly horrible part of this?
Mr. Hecht: I think if it is implemented it is. I think the challenge with all international law is that it is very difficult to understand how they translate in terms of domestic legislation. If we were able to ensure that the spirit of the convention is included in our Criminal Code, that would go a long way, but there are many obstacles to doing that. There are jurisdictional issues with that as well as resource issues.
I think it does provide a good international standard that we should meet. This bill is one of those things that provides one step in terms of meeting that international standard.
With respect to your comment about we are not really getting to the heart of this and if this will really make a difference, the one thing we have to keep in mind is that the vast majority of trafficking, at least with respect to children — I suspect it is the same with human trafficking in general — the vast majority of it is organized crime. Organized crime is very difficult to crack.
Will this bill wipe out organized crime syndicates that are responsible for human trafficking? Probably not. However, when we catch the individuals who are involved, at least it provides an opportunity or a method for us to prosecute these individuals. Hopefully, with education of the judiciary, their sentences can be long enough that it may deter other people who may be involved in the periphery of organized crime or have been implicated in organized crime in the past from doing this kind of behaviour.
Ms. Beazley: I was going to work hard to stay focused, but you are talking about ultimately how to get to the root of this. When you are looking at upwards of 80 per cent of the cases of trafficking being for sexual exploitation, if you really want to get to the root of it, you have to target the demand for the purchase of sex. That is a whole other issue, but we have to take the profitability out of this for organized crime. The only way to do that is to go after the demand. If there is no demand for what they are offering, then the profitability is removed.
Senator Di Nino: Well said.
Obviously we know this is happening. It is not a secret. We know the places; we even know the people, probably. Have we got the political will to deal with this? We actually know that if we want to deal with it, we can.
Mr. Hecht: I think we do now.
Senator Di Nino: I am not talking about Canada alone. This problem cannot be solved by Canada alone.
Mr. Hecht: I think there is the political will out there. Like everything else in the international arena, we are constantly juggling our priorities. It is easy for something to fall lower on the list when a media crisis comes up. I think this has been around long enough that a momentum is building within the international community and within our domestic government. I think now is a really good time for us to put our efforts into not only improving the legislation but also enforcing the legislation. I think the timing is good.
Senator Di Nino: I am not hopeful, but thank you.
Senator Unger: My question is for Ms. Beazley. You state that the current definition of “exploitation” in the Criminal Code is not sufficient and that for victims, fear of safety has led to difficulty in obtaining convictions. Do you think the Criminal Code should be amended to specifically refer to things like physical, psychological and/or emotional safety or any other definition that would encompass “fear of safety”?
Ms. Beazley: I actually think the language that Bill C-310 has arrived at, the additional considerations, accomplish that. Lots of the stakeholders were part of the National Action Plan. There was debate back and forth about what definition do we want to put in the Criminal Code; should it be as exactly as written in the Palermo Protocol? This is where the “fear of safety” requirement came from. I feel comfortable with what has come out in Bill C-310. I feel the considerations will encompass all sorts of different elements and factors to be considered in these cases. I feel it is sufficient.
Senator Unger: As is?
Ms. Beazley: Yes, I do.
Senator Dagenais: Thank you to both our witnesses. My question is for Ms. Beazley. First, thank you for supporting this bill. Obviously, this bill will provide measures that are more dissuasive and certainly more punitive, which is very good.
Do you think we could eventually add preventive measures so that we could intervene more at the source?
Ms. Beazley: Yes. Again, I hate to keep going back to the National Action Plan, but there are some wonderful elements built into the plan about public awareness, how you target specific groups who may be at risk of trafficking and how you educate them and inform them. In the case that came down in Ottawa recently, it was young girls who were targeting young girls. A massive public awareness piece must happen. There are a lot of really good elements built into the National Action Plan and as that unfolds it will be a really important part of addressing this issue.
As I said, our prostitution laws are being challenged now. This is also an opportunity to start looking at the question of how we get to the heart of it and start taking the profitability away from this issue. Ultimately, if there is no profit, if there is no value — and, it is big, big money, what they can sell women and children for — that is, if we can take away from profitability, then that, I think, will help get to the heart of it.
Senator Chaput: My question is to Ms. Beazley. In your presentation you said that Bill C-310 will offer additional protection. Could you explain to me what do you see as additional protection? It is a good bill no doubt but I would like the answer to that.
Ms. Beazley: I was referring to the additional considerations because I think they will help obtain convictions in court. In a lot of cases the human trafficking charges do not necessarily stick because it is sometimes difficult to prove the element of exploitation. My feeling is that this expanded consideration, this addition to the definition of “exploitation,” will help in obtaining more convictions.
Quite often they get convicted of lesser charges and serve a light sentence and then they are right back out again and victims do not feel safe to go through the steps they need to go through to find health and wellness.
Senator Chaput: Is it a good step in the right direction as some senators said here?
Ms. Beazley: Yes.
Senator Chaput: If there was to be another bill sponsored, what more could we do?
Ms. Beazley: A lot of the questions raised around the table here are alluding to some of the things. We can look at different measures. For example, when it comes to sentencing, what do you do with offenders once they are released? There are those sorts of questions. I have a feeling that Ms. Smith has multiple things up her sleeve. She will no doubt be coming forward with other measures. There are a lot of good minds working on this and, from the questions around the table, it sounds like you are also thinking in the right direction. It will be an evolving process.
Senator Fraser: Once again, I have one question for each of you.
Mr. Hecht, you talked very persuasively about the need for a lot more resources if the exterritorial jurisdiction is actually going to be of any use. We had a witness last week who suggested that, perhaps in an age of austerity, Canadian governments were not likely to pour a whole lot of their own money into anything new and that it might be workable to rely quite heavily on the cooperation of international NGO's agencies that are already on the ground. You are part of such an agency. Do you think that can work?
Clearly you want to use any resources that are already there and are expert, but how far can that go?
Mr. Hecht: I think many of the organizations working on the front lines around the world on this issue are well placed to work with local law enforcement whether domestic or our own. In terms of providing the training and the information, let us face it, a lot of the groups working on the front lines — for example, Beyond Borders has done a lot of work in Southeast Asia and in West Africa — know exactly who the individuals are who are committing the offences, know where they find the victims and know where they find those who wish to exploit the victims. They are well placed to work with local law enforcement or, in some cases, with the support or at least the approval of the local law enforcement to work with our embassies and with individuals in our embassies abroad. However, Beyond Borders would not support these organizations undertaking police work. Good organizations end up getting tainted because individuals take on the role of being the police and sometimes their motivations are not very genuine. We would not recommend that they take on that role but working collaboratively with law enforcement is something that we would definitely support. It would be more cost effective.
If the government does not put any money into this bill, we would still support it being on the books because it is another tool for law enforcement to use. Even if it is reactive and not proactive, even if they end up using it because someone falls into their lap who could be charged with it, it is better to have the legislation in place than not to.
Senator Fraser: As I said last week, any person saved is a person saved.
Mr. Hecht: Agreed.
Senator Fraser: I do not think any of us would dispute that.
Ms. Beazley, you reminded us of the awful statistic that 80 per cent of trafficked people are women and children for sexual purposes. I think that, for most people, that is the image that outrages us and makes us really want to galvanize our society into doing something. However, we heard from a witness last week who said that, over the next one or two decades, he expected that 20 per cent — the men — to grow. He was not saying, I do not think, that there would be fewer women and children but that there would be more men, basically for slave labour. Do you think that that is true, and, if it is, is this bill properly tailored to address that problem?
Ms. Beazley: I think that it is quite possibly true. Unless more countries around the world take aim at the demand for sexual services, I expect that that number will not necessarily shrink. However, I do expect that labour cases will increase. I think that they are, in part, increasing because people are becoming more aware of what that is and what it looks like, so we are uncovering more instances of it. I expect that that will continue. To answer the second part of your question, I think yes because sometimes it is criminal organizations that have one foot in two countries or Canadian citizens here who are working with them. You will hear from the Crown counsel who can speak to a case like that. I stressed how important the definition of exploitation was for cases of sexual exploitation, but the wording is not, in any way, confined to cases of sexual exploitation. It broadens considerations for exploitation period, and it can equally address cases of sexual exploitation and of labour trafficking.
Senator Boisvenu: I will be very brief. The bill will broaden the definition of “exploitation”. We know that this is one of the crimes that is occurring more and more.
The Criminal Code has a tool, the judiciary has a tool for monitoring these people. I still come back to my problem. Give me the most severe sentences in Canada; if those people reoffend, we have failed in our mission to protect women and children, like you said, Ms. Beazley.
Would it be appropriate for judges to use the labels of long-term offender and dangerous offender more frequently for this type of crime compared with other types of criminal behaviour? For example, when someone targets children now, they have to reoffend two or three times before being labelled a dangerous offender.
Should we not declare them dangerous as soon as they commit their first crime against a child, knowing that the rate of recidivism for these people is one of the highest when it comes to criminal behaviour?
Mr. Hecht: In terms of the recidivism rates, there is research that shows varying degrees of recidivism by people who commit crimes against children. Beyond Borders supports the evidence that we have seen that recidivism rates are really high. However, the vast majority of people committing repeated sexual offences against children are not pedophiles. “Pedophile” is psychiatric terminology, and we would not require that to be the threshold for whether or not someone becomes a dangerous offender. We would certainly support using some tool, whether it is dangerous offender status or something else, when people commit multiple crimes against children on different occasions. Again, we do feel very strongly that the easiest way to protect children from people who are known to be sex offenders is to not have them in public, but we recognize that that is a very difficult. Beyond Borders supports mandatory minimum sentences for people who commit crimes against children. However, we know that judges often ignore the mandatory minimum sentences anyway, or the offenders end up pleading to a lesser offence so that they do not fall under the purview of the mandatory minimum sentences. To put all of our faith in the judiciary to keep our children safe is not the way to go. That is why we have to ensure, as I said, that, whatever resources we are providing to the offenders when they come out of prison to change their names, get their passports and move on with their lives, we should be providing a greater amount of resources to those who are trying to protect the children.
The Chair: I will have to jump in. I asked that questions and responses be concise.
Senator Baker: I have just one question. Of course, this deals not only with women and children and prostitution but also with other types of trafficking. What has been said is understandable for someone who has actually committed an offence. However, under our Criminal Code, as you know, in section 6(2), it says that no one shall be convicted of an offence committed outside of Canada. That is why it is so difficult to constitutionalize these laws.
Would you agree that, given that the Charter will apply once a charge is laid, it will be very important for the Government of Canada and the police to act very quickly because of section 11(b) of the Charter, which, it appears to me from reading the case law, has come into play recently in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal? It found people who had actually committed offences, originally in Canada, innocent because of that ruling. Would you agree that the police and the government will have to dedicate resources to this, if it passes its constitutionality test, in order to carry out the function that this bill wishes to?
Mr. Hecht: I would agree with that statement. Because of the international dimension, we would have to act fast. There would be a risk that the victims in other jurisdictions might disappear on us. These are issues to keep in mind as we move forward, but I really think that they are workable.
Senator Angus: Good afternoon. Ms. Beazley, you mentioned that one of the main solutions would be to reduce the demand for what you call “sexual services.” I am wondering what measures you would suggest. Are you talking about legalizing prostitution, for example?
Ms. Beazley: No, on the contrary, actually. If you look at the Netherlands, for example, which legalized prostitution, they found that their rates of trafficking skyrocketed. Victor Malarek says that there are 85,000 women in prostitution in the Netherlands, and the vast majority of them are not from there.
Senator Angus: The issue being where do the prostitutes come from if you are going to legalize it?
Ms. Beazley: It makes sense. Your average woman will not work in a brothel, and the demand has to be met. When you throw the doors open, it sets the stage for trafficking to increase. Sweden took a different route after taking a legalization approach. “Asymmetrical decriminalization” is what it is called. They decriminalize the women, and they criminalize the johns, the traffickers and the pimps. They target that side of things while not criminalizing the women and recognizing that, for the most part, they are victims. They are not hindered by a criminal record; they can apply for services and move on with their lives once they find freedom. We are recommending that model for Canada.
Senator Angus: In terms of reducing the demand?
Ms. Beazley: Yes.
The Chair: Thank you, witnesses. You been very helpful. We appreciate you being here today.
I would like to welcome our next witness, a former colleague, Toni Skarica, Assistant Crown Attorney in the Hamilton area. Mr. Skarica was recently involved in a human trafficking case in that region and he is appearing today as an individual.
Welcome, Mr. Skarica. Do you have an opening statement?
Toni Skarica, Assistant Crown Attorney, as an individual: I will do this a little differently. I will not give you my opinions; I will start off with three documents that prove above and beyond any doubt their exhibits and our prosecution.
I am the lead prosecutor in the largest human trafficking prosecution ever conducted in Canada. We have 17 people convicted now of human trafficking, criminal organization and a variety of other offences. They have pleaded guilty to this charge admitting to the accuracy of this chart, which I will refer to in a minute. They all agreed to these provable statements of fact, and I have given you the first three pages. The original documents are 17 or 18 pages. There is something I will refer to later as exhibit 87 when I deal with territoriality.
I would like to impress upon the committee that this human trafficking issue now requires an urgent response on a number of different fronts. We are not talking about victims who are in some far-off land and we are not talking about just women and children. What I hope to establish and what I learned from our prosecution is that every Canadian right now is a victim of human trafficking, and that is what our prosecution revealed.
Let us start with the chart. At the top of the chart are all the accused people who were and are members of a criminal organization that was active in Hungary. They all came over here virtually unmolested. At the time they came over here, virtually everybody had a criminal record and warrants outstanding for their arrest. Some of them were actually convicted criminals who were supposed to be starting to serve lengthy sentences. Some of them had indictments, and warrants came out.
The bottom line is that they were members of a vast, powerful criminal organization in Hungary. They came over here and somehow got through our borders and our immigration system and set up shop here. They were active there and they are active here.
They came in two waves. The first are those people encapsulated in the yellow border. The ring leader and the number two person in that prosecution are in that border. You see Ferenc Domotor is the ring leader and he is at the left of the bordered-in portion. Gyula Domotor is the number 2 person, and he is at the right-hand portion of the document.
Their experience in coming over here is basically typical of all the rest of them. There was an indictment for their arrests when they came over here. There was an indictment; they were charged with extortion by severe threats. What is human trafficking? It is extortion by threat, basically.
There was indictment outstanding in 1997. They were being prosecuted. They did not like it, so they decided to come to Canada, and they came to Canadian on September 21, 1998. They claimed refugee status. When you claim that, there is a form: Are you a criminal? Do you have outstanding charges? Et cetera. All these people say “no” but those are all lies. These people came in and said, “No, we are not wanted for anything.” It was all untrue.
What happened to them? Did anybody find out about it? No, they became convention refugees. They became landed immigrants.
Gyula Domotor, on the right-hand side, in 2004 became a Canadian citizen. At the time, all these applications were taking place: the refugee application, the landed immigrant application, and the Canadian citizen application. We are talking four or five years — there were warrants outstanding in Hungary for very serious offences, and somehow we did not know. The first documentation I have that we knew about was 2005, when Ferenc Domotor was hiding in the open in Canada and we finally found out about it. What did we do? Nothing.
Hungary has this weird criminal justice system, if I might say. If you hide out long enough somewhere else and they do not know where you are, there is a statute of limitations. That came into effect in 2006, and, guess what, they got off the charges by coming to Canada, getting welfare, lying to our authorities and getting away with it. They basically became landed immigrants. One was a Canadian citizen. In 2007, they were free and clear of all the Hungarian charges.
How did they give their gratitude to us for accommodating them in that way? We put in a visa requirement for Hungary in 2001 because there were so many bogus refugee claims. Therefore, we tried it again on March 1, 2008.
What was the response of those criminals in the yellow box? They brought over the rest of the criminal organization in 2008 and 2009. It was the same deal: Outstanding charges and criminal records.
In fact, this Ferenc Karadi, who you will see just outside the box to the left, is a very vicious criminal. He had been charged, convicted and sentenced for five years. For what? Blackmail and fraud. What is human trafficking? Blackmail and fraud. He was supposed to serve a five-year sentence. Another Hungarian innovation for criminal law is you charge somebody, convict them, sentence them, but you do not put them in jail right away. You say, “Show up next month.” Well, guess what? They do not show up next month. They come to Canada and they go on welfare. What did Ferenc Karadi do the minute he got here? His wife, by the way, same deal. Charged, convicted and sentenced for two and half years. What did she do? They both came over here and, for us accommodating them, the first thing they did was defraud us of welfare. That is the basic outline of how this criminal organization got here. The third step was that once they were all here, they all went on welfare.
They all lied to us about their background and outstanding charges and criminal records. They all filled out those forms and lied about it. In fact, it is not only Canada Immigration's fault. For Ferenc Karadi, we asked Hungary. “Hey, does this guy have a record? Does he have outstanding charges?” He came here in 1998. Our prosecution against him started in February of 2010. I asked the RCMP to check into it in October of 2010, and Hungary said, “No, he has no record at all.” Meanwhile, he is on the lam for five years, charged, convicted and sentenced.
The third part of what they did is then once they were all here, they were all on welfare, and Karadi in fact bragged about it. Never worked a day in his life. He said his hands have only touched money and women, but he did not say it that politely.
What they did is once they were all ensconced here and all their warrants were outstanding in Hungary and Europe, and we did not do anything about it — we did not know about it in some cases, and in other cases it took us forever to find out — then they brought in all the victims. Same deal. Brought them over. Got them to lie about their refugee claim. Basically, they were bogus refugees. In addition, all the slaves went on welfare, but they got the cards, the people at the top, and took their money.
This is why I am saying everyone here is a victim. Both the accused and the victims went on welfare, except the accused got all the money, and that is our tax money paying for that.
In the second document here, proven beyond a reasonable doubt, admitted to by 17 people, pled guilty. On page 3, the Justice Cavarzan, one of our bail reviews, summarized it in paragraph 9. The offences charged involved organized crime — page 3, point 9, in the first paragraph. The offences charged involved organized crime by a network extending to Hungary carrying out an elaborate and complex scheme of deceit affecting Canada's immigration system and its welfare system.
It is part of a larger picture, and I hope you ask me about it. We are letting all of these bogus refugees in from Eastern Europe, and it is costing us a massive amount of money at a time when we do not have money for hospitals and doctors, et cetera.
Do you make money doing all of this? These are my estimates. There were at least 19 victims, probably more, providing free labour for years. I figure they made 1 to $2 million from that. Welfare fraud. Right now, we have restitution orders of $250,000. Mail theft, organized crime. They do not just do human trafficking. They expand. These people, once we arrested them under IRPA for some of these human trafficking offences, they went into a different business to recoup more money. They went around Southern Ontario, dumped mailboxes and actually stole whole mailboxes, got a key made. Then they would go through mailboxes, dump out the letters, take the cheques and do frauds. We are at $2 million right now. This little group — it is not that little, but in the scheme of things it is little — have taken us for $5 million.
I have provided copies of these court exhibits. Here is a photo of the house. You can see it here on page 1. That is the ringleader's house, $500,000 house in Ancaster. By the way, after he was charged, because they were doing all these cheque frauds, they sold this house and moved into a $700,000 house. They were living very lavishly. You can see the lavish furniture in this place on page 2. Page 3 is luxury slave living. This is where the slaves were living in the basement of that house in Ancaster. This is the number two guy, $500,000 house, with a Mercedes and a brand new truck. It is big money.
Senator Angus: These are the people in the yellow box?
Mr. Skarica: Thes are the people in the yellow box, yes, the first wave of people. Number one is Frank Domotor, number two is Gyula Domotor.
Now dealing with extraterritoriality, which shows how important these amendments are: What has Canada's response been to what I call this invasion of evil, where an entire criminal organization from there came here? We prosecuted them, as you would expect us to do. We now have 17 people disposed of, 17 charged. Many of them have gone to the penitentiary. We have the highest sentences ever in Canadian history. Number one got 9 years, number two got 7.5 years. We destroyed the criminal organization in Hungary.
What has Hungary done? The recruiters are there. The answer is simple. It is one word. It is nothing. To show you how big a nothing it is, I would like to go to one example, because I do not have time to go through all of them, but you will see in this chart there is a victim there called Tamas Miko. A very sweet beautiful boy. To me now, anyone under 40 is a boy, and he is in his early 20s, but he is a very sweet, talented boy. After this case was over, he gave me a picture of me that was very good. He actually made me look good, and that takes talent.
If you go straight up from that box, you will see an individual there all by herself, Veronika Kolompar, between the yellow bars. She is the recruiter in Hungary. Tamas Miko, by the way, if you want to know what he looks like, you can see him here on the page of The Globe and Mail from April 3. There he is. I am telling you, a sweet boy. He is not on welfare and does not want to go on welfare. He could have gone on welfare as a victim. He has been working in a hotel doing menial work, because he wants to work, which is what Canada stands for, in my opinion. I am from an immigrant family. My parents wanted to work. We did not want welfare. We wanted to work and get an opportunity. Look how great it has been. I am before all of you, and I am from that part of the world originally myself.
Anyway, to show you what a big nothing they have done, I want to talk about Veronika Kolompar. She is in Hungary. She recruited Tamas Miko. When the first set of charges came in February 2010 against number one, Frank Domator, and he was charged under IRPA at that time, the response of Veronika Kolompar was to go to Miko's family, who lived in Hungary, and basically bribe them. I can tell you beyond any reasonable doubt that it happened because I have the smoking gun right here. The family took a cell phone and recorded the conversation. We have it in English. The Hungarian people have it. This is blatant obstruct justice. Have there been any charges in Hungary for obstruct justice? No. Has there even been an investigation for obstruct justice? As far as I know, no. We have a smoking gun. They have the people there, and they have a tape. What more do you need? We had a lot less in getting these convictions, I can tell you.
Anyway, nothing was done. Then we laid criminal charges against Frank Domotor. He got out originally, and we did a bail review. As that bail review is coming forward, Veronika Kolompar, along with her husband, started to terrorize and threaten the Miko family in Hungary. As we got closer to the bail review, the threats stepped up. The last exhibit I have given you is exhibit 87, their actual statement. I will tell you how we got that in a minute.
If you go to page 5 of exhibit 87, they will tell you how the Hungarian police deal with extortion on serious human trafficking. I will not read all of it, but I have yellowed in again the gist of their evidence.
Reading from the second paragraph of the yellowed in portion, they picked up as promised — federal police — and brought us to Budapest. This is his entire family. I have met them. This is the father, the mother and a bunch of kids.
Senator Angus: Mr. Miko's family?
Mr. Skarica: Yes. His family is in Hungary. He was here helping us out. This kid has courage. His family was threatened and bribed. He was the witness they wanted. Of all of our witnesses, he was totally clean. He is one of those people that when you talk and listen to him, you know he is telling the truth. He was the guy they were targeting. Again, he is a tremendous kid with tremendous courage.
This is the family in Hungary:
They picked us up as promised, and brought us to Budapest, where we were left in a shelter run by a Baptist charity. The Federal Police simply left us there and didn't even follow up. We never saw them again. There was no proper heating, and we were very cold. We had no food so we ate leftovers in the fridge. But this was enough, and we were hungry. Tamas knew of someone in Hungary whom he arranged to bring us food and money. We did not know what to do. The Federal Police had said they would not intervene because it was up to the local police to do something. The local police were corrupt, and we had been advised by the federal police not even to contact them prior to running from Papa. We were afraid of being found in Budapest. We were very afraid that they would harm us to make Tamas withdraw his testimony. We had no money, no furniture, no contacts in Budapest, no protection . . . nothing. We felt abandoned, and we were frightened. We had not expected to have to suddenly leave our home, and we did not know where to go or what to do.
This is one week before the review of the number one guy who ended up getting nine years. He was out, we were trying to get him in and in fact, we did.
I did not know about any of this was going on before our bail review. An NGO brought those people — which is how we have this statement — from Hungary to Canada at their expense. If they had not done that, who knows what would have happened to our case and to the Miko family.
Is that all? No. As I have told you before — I am just about finished — Frank Karadi on the left-hand side of that, was charged, sentenced, convicted and came to Canada to avoid a five-year sentence. He was eventually convicted of human trafficking. He got six years for that. He and his wife were fraudsters in Hungary. What happened here? They were convicted of fraud for $50,000. The Hungarian people said they would commence extradition for serious criminals like him. I can tell you that I have not heard of any extradition requests from anyone.
I have three conclusions. Hungary has taken no steps that I could see to prevent this criminal organization from coming from Hungary to Canada, and it took 10 years to do it. They have taken no steps to repatriate their criminals. Most importantly, they have done nothing over there for the recruiters. In my opinion, they will not do anything to any Hungarian — Veronika Kolompar — or any Canadian. I can tell you that some of these people who got the refugee status have been going back and forth and doing recruiting there. Right now, this law could really help us with the types of people doing that.
The urgency I impress upon you is, as I said to David Sweet about a year and a half ago, that this is part of a larger problem. The Hungarians alone, most of them are bogus refugees and 98 per cent is the total. Since we removed that visa requirement in 2008, they have cost us $500 million just in welfare payments. That does not cover the costs of all this crime and so on. In that envelope of all these people, they are coming in right now at 100 per week. Police are telling me that now that the Domotors are destroyed in Hamilton, there are other Hungarian groups doing this in the construction industry and they suspect it is still going on.
There is a sense of urgency I would like to impress upon you, the immigration and welfare people because, like I said at the beginning, we are all victims now. $500 million? How many hospitals could you build for that? I think you can build two for that. We got nothing for that. That is my statement. I went too long. I apologize.
The Chair: That was fascinating, the downside is we have a little over half an hour left. I do not believe you commented on the bill or dealing with Bill C-310. Can you give us a quick —
Mr. Skarica: The extraterritorial part is really important. We are dealing with countries like Hungary. Not just Hungary, which is a first world area. What about Africa, Latin America and Asia? What are they doing? I can tell you now there are Canadians in the Hungarian part — people who have status here in Canada — who are travelling back and forth. That would be a tremendous tool to deal with this. I do not want to get into it because we have charged one person, but the most of what she did was recruiting in Hungary. If we had that tool, that would help our case.
Senator Fraser: I will try to be brief and I know the chair will want you to be brief as well, but still, we need the facts.
I still do not quite see how this bill will help you with Hungary where, by your eloquent testimony, no one wants to help. The government apparently does not, the police do not; no one does. How can this bill help if you do not get cooperation in the other country?
Mr. Skarica: There are people travelling back and forth. Right now there is one person hiding out in Canada who has travelled back and forth. We have the evidence. Like the Miko family, those people are here. We have the evidence right now. We have them travelling back and forth so we know they have done recruiting in Hungary. They are in Canada so if we have the legislation, we have them. We have the witnesses here. That is the missing component right now.
Senator Fraser: What kind of work were these men doing? They were collecting welfare but they were also working, at what?
Mr. Skarica: They were working 16 hours a day basically, with one meal a day — scraps in some cases — and doing construction work. Construction is perfect because you are not mixing with the general public. They spoke Hungarian, no English, so they were perfect victims.
Senator Fraser: I used that phrase earlier today. Thank you very much, Mr. Skarica. Very interesting.
Senator Jaffer: Thank you for your presentation. Here of course we are talking about trafficking of labour, right?
Mr. Skarica: Yes.
Senator Jaffer: If this bill comes into place, it is to charge people doing things in Hungary, but they have Canadian citizenship or permanent residence here, right?
Mr. Skarica: Right.
Senator Jaffer: What I did not understand is that you brought Miko from Hungary?
Mr. Skarica: He was recruited in Hungary by Veronika Kolompar. He was here as a slave in the room I showed you in the picture. In February 2010 the RCMP did a raid and he was there. He has been in Canada, but his family was there and they were being threatened.
Senator Jaffer: Were you able to provide victim services for him?
Mr. Skarica: No, we did not. An NGO did and if they had not been there, I do not know what we would have done. If we went through the RCMP and other channels, I would still be going through channels now. It was an NGO that came out of nowhere. We need an attack on multiple fronts. Funding for those NGOs is vital because then they would not have to go through a lot of bureaucratic steps like I do. They can immediately send in the money and bring the witnesses.
Senator Jaffer: I have been asking this question and you are Crown counsel — — and I also know you have worked closely with Ms. Smith — so you have had time to think about this bill.
As Crown counsel, are you in a position or do you have resources to bring those victims to Canada for a person that does trafficking abroad, for example in Hungary?
Mr. Skarica: The blunt answer is no, we do not.
Senator Jaffer: We have work to do on that.
Mr. Skarica: Yes.
Senator Angus: It was very interesting testimony, as the chair said. It is a little difficult for us to tie it right into this law, but I am interested in this business of refugees. You say they come here and claim refugee status and we have this act I know you can drive a truck through.
I made my crack earlier about smoked salmon and caviar. The word around Montreal is that they come here, claim refugee status, and the next thing you know, they are staying at the Ritz and are in the Ritz bar eating smoked salmon and caviar on our nickel. What is going on? What are they claiming their refugee status on?
Mr. Skarica: Most of these people are Roma. They are being prosecuted as Roma.
Senator Angus: Are Romas gypsies in Europe?
Mr. Skarica: Yes. The claims are always the same. There were some incidents in the past about skinheads beating a Roma. The applications I have seen, both from the victims and the accused, are almost identical: “I was going to school. I had no opportunities. I was beaten up by skinheads.” That is the gist of the refugee claim.
Senator Angus: Do you accept that?
Mr. Skarica: No. They are all bogus and in 98 per cent of the cases, we say, no.
Senator Angus: What do you do?
Mr. Skarica: We eventually deport them, but only after we pay them on average $50,000 in welfare because it takes years to do it.
Senator Angus: Does it take years to get to the Federal Court?
Mr. Skarica: Yes, because there are appeals and so forth. They come in huge numbers and are not stupid. I have the stats here on a guilty plea for 2007 when 25 came in. Then, we lifted the Visa — 307 — and they found out that it is a Shangri-La here because we pay more than anybody else and they can get it right away. In 2009, 2,500 people came; in 2010, 2,300 people came; and in 2011, 5,000 came. The numbers are exponential and that is why there is an urgency to this bill.
Senator Angus: Is this for multiple countries?
Mr. Skarica: No. This is Hungary alone — $500 million to Hungary alone. You can see the exponential growth. This has the potential to bankrupt our country at this rate of exponential growth.
Senator Angus: You are an officer of the law, a Crown prosecutor. You are in a position to know all this. I am not criticizing. You are getting it off your chest before us and on television.
Mr. Skarica: We have a guilty plea.
Senator Angus: What can we do? It is a two-edged sword. The Refugee and Immigration Protection Act does not seem to work.
Mr. Skarica: Minister Kenney is addressing it. You can either impose a visa on abusive countries like Hungary or you have the new system. It is not worth it. Remember, it is $50,000 because they are here for three or four years. The process will be expedited so that it is dealt with in three months; then it is not worth it. Right now, they know. They are coming in right now at a rate of 100 per week.
Senator White: Thank you for your excellent presentation. I have asked the same question of a couple of people. You talked about people being convicted and when they are released and how difficult it is for us to move those people out of the country if at all possible. Have you given any thought to whether we need to look at expulsion legislation, like Switzerland enacted, the U.S. has had since 9/11 and other countries have as well?
Mr. Skarica: I would be guessing. Most of these people do not have status. They are bogus refugees. We are giving them their six years, and then we are basically deporting them.
Senator Baker: My question will be very short and probably not associated with your presentation, which was very thorough.
I wonder about this piece of paper you distributed. It says “Not to be distributed. Not to be copied.” Then it says “only with the permission of Assistant Sergeant Tim Hughes.” Have you done something illegal by giving this to us?
Mr. Skarica: I hope not. Basically, our position is that this is a court document that has been entered into many times. Now it is a public document. This was done earlier during the bail hearings.
Senator Baker: I have a final general question that came to my mind while you were presenting. We have a couple of senators at this table who were very experienced police officers in their former lives. We have gone over many times the role of a police officer to investigate and to lay a charge and the Crown prosecutor to have a second look as to whether the charge should be laid. I was getting the impression when you were giving the presentation that you are doing an investigation — that you were part of the investigation with the RCMP?
Mr. Skarica: When I took over the file, we just had human trafficking charges. When we looked at it, we laid conspiracy charges as well. I am kind of a hybrid. Charges were laid, but when I took it over, we laid extra charges. The investigation continued throughout the entire process until the guilty pleas.
Senator Baker: Thank you.
The Chair: You did not mention it in your submission, but you had a death threat on your life as well. Did you ever determine where that originated?
Mr. Skarica: I did not know who Joy Smith was. She basically contacted me eventually. We had them all in custody except for one guy called Ferenc Domotor Jr. We just could not get him to do the bail review. His lawyer kept stalling, and I am the Supreme Court of Canada and I have late disclosures et cetera. We finally got our third or fourth date in June. We heard around that time, because he was the last one out, that a contract killer was coming over from Hungary to kill me, the two police officers and virtually all those witnesses. As I have indicated, this is organized crime. They are powerful, wealthy and feared over there. This experience of going to jail was alien to them, especially given what happened in Hungary. They took those steps. Joy Smith found out about it, as did CBSA from a different source. He was stopped in England on the way over with six girls; so that tells you there was probably something else going on as well.
Senator Di Nino: Mr. Skarica, you described an activity where these slaves were brought to Canada by these folks to work in construction. Who owned the construction company?
Mr. Skarica: It was basically the people you see mostly in the yellow box. The business documents said Ferenc Domotor, but you can see on the list that there is a Ferenc Domotor Sr., Ferenc Domotor on the left-hand side and a Ferenc Domotor Jr.; and he had a son called Ferenc Domotor. It was hard to figure out who it was but fortunately for us, Ferenc Domotor Jr. testified and said that he owned the business with Gyula Domotor and Attila Kolompar.
Senator Di Nino: They were not placed with other construction companies who may have been co-conspirators.
Mr. Skarica: No.
Senator Di Nino: Was there a charge against these folks? They were probably not remitting income tax and Employment Insurance premiums and so on.
Mr. Skarica: No, they were not.
Senator Di Nino: Could we not get them on that as well?
Mr. Skarica: We did not need to. With the human trafficking, we had solid evidence. When we started out the range for human trafficking in Canada was two to five years; and we just upped it to six to nine years.
Senator Di Nino: I understand you to say that this bill, as it stands and as I have described before as modest but important, would be helpful for you in future cases of this nature.
Mr. Skarica: It would be helpful right now because we have some coming back and forth.
Senator Di Nino: It would help you to pick them up and charge them?
Mr. Skarica: Yes.
Senator Unger: It is a very interesting story. My question is simple: What happens to these guys when they get out of jail having finished their sentences?
Mr. Skarica: Virtually all of them will be deported. The ones with status lied on their forms for refugee status and landed immigrant status. They are always asked about background charges; and they lied about that. What happens to them is up to CBSA and Employment and Immigration Canada. They have the power to go after them and revoke all that stuff. That is up to them.
Senator Unger: Is it your expectation that that will be a speedy process?
Mr. Skarica: I have no idea.
The Chair: With respect to the pictures of homes you showed us, Frank Domotor's house was the first slide?
Mr. Skarica: Yes.
The Chair: His brother's house was the second slide?
Mr. Skarica: The last house was his brother's.
The Chair: Did you indicate earlier that they were both receiving welfare?
Mr. Skarica: Everybody when they came over began receiving welfare. Gyongyi Kolompar, by the way, was convicted in one of her pleas of welfare fraud for $25,000 and she was living in that house.
The Chair: At the time those photos were taken and all the charges were laid, they were not on welfare?
Mr. Skarica: They were not. They were the exception to the rule at that time, although Gyongyi Kolompar, like I said, owed welfare $25,000 for fraud and never paid any of it back.
The Chair: There are welfare rules that apply in Ontario. Are they standardized across the country? I know it is a provincial responsibility. Is Ontario, for lack of a better expression, an easier place to land and gain access to that kind of support?
Mr. Skarica: I do not know, but I understand that every province has different rules. What shocked me to discover is that these people that have been convicted of welfare fraud, the ones that have status, once they are out of jail, they can apply for welfare again. Even though they have been convicted of welfare fraud, they owe $25,000 and they have been living lavishly, they can apply for welfare again immediately.
The Chair: Does the Crown use proceeds of crime legislation here at all to seize these properties and assets?
Mr. Skarica: They were very clever. Basically the homes you see were mortgaged pretty well to the hilt. They had $100,000 equity, so by the time we were able to move against them, the equity was gone. They lost those houses; they sold them basically for the mortgages.
The $5 million, we had problems with resources; again, we only had two officers in a thing this big. Therefore, we never interviewed many of the employers and we do not know where the money went. We suspect it all went back to Hungary for bars and restaurants. What do you do there? You get girls and strippers and the process goes on. That is where I have heard the money went.
The Chair: There was no recovery at all?
Mr. Skarica: No, there was no recovery. We do not even know where it went. That is the best information I have.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Skarica.
Mr. Skarica: It is an honour. As I say, I am an immigrant to this country, and it is an honour to be here.
The Chair: It was a real education for all of us. Thank you very much for being here.
(The committee adjourned.)