Michael Ford

Human trafficking sentence could set precedent

Toronto criminal lawyer Tushar Pain says an 18-month jail term for human trafficking handed to a man who forced his housekeeper to work long days for little money seems harsh, especially given the first offender was not involved in a criminal organization.

B.C. Supreme Court Judge Richard Goepel said the Crown didn’t prove that the woman, who was brought to Canada from Hong Kong to work for the man’s family for $500 a month, was subjected to humiliating or degrading treatment, but did prove that the man profited by paying low wages, the National Post reports.

The maximum sentence allowable for such a crime is 14 years in jail, however, 18 months seems high for such a case, says Pain.

“The problem is that there is not much precedent in Canada to compare this particular sentence to,” says Pain. “Human trafficking charges are rarely laid in Canada and I would guess that they have never been laid in circumstances like this.”

Pain says the sentencing may very well set a precedent moving forward. Human trafficking is usually thought of as an “element of an organization that involves the ongoing trafficking of human beings — like the sex trade,” says Pain. “This, obviously, was a very different situation than that. As we become a busier society with an aging population, our need for caregivers for our children and aging parents is growing. As such, the live-in nanny concept involving foreign workers has become very popular.”

Pain says he wouldn’t be surprised to see human trafficking charges of a similar nature happening in the future.

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