Friday, December 15, 2006

NGO Steering Committee for Human Rights in Human Trafficking

BC NGO Steering Committee for Human Rights in Human Trafficking Communities Appalled By Raid And Rescue Charade(Vancouver, BC –12 December 2006)

On 8 December 2006, 108 people in ourcommunities were shackled and taken to police stations in Surrey, Richmond, New Westminster, and Vancouver after RCMP raids. Of those 108, 78 were women and of those, 72 were Canadian citizens. After questioning took place, it soon came to light that none of the 78 women were in contravention of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. These raids reflect an overall misguided understanding by Canadian authorities of human trafficking.

"We believe the people of BritishColumbia will see right through this," states Deanna Okun-Nachoff, staff lawyer at West Coast Domestic Workers' Association. "We believe our communities will see this operation for the human rights violation that it is, and they won't be fooled by congratulatory press conferences. We're appalled that the women were used for this charade." Women work in licensed massage parlours for many reasons. Sometimes, it is because the education and skills they have are not recognized in Canada. Sometimes, it is because employers, creating an almost insoluble barrier to the labour market, racialize them. Sometimes, it is because they are isolated and cannot make the connections they need to find other work. Sometimes, it is because they want to be there.

In May of this year, a temporary resident permit (TRP) was introduced fortrafficked persons which intended to provide 120 days for reflection aswell as interim federal health, and a provision for counseling. To date,the state has created no funded service provision to enable traffickedpersons to access these services. Only one TRP has been granted since May.Whenever a TRP application is advanced, there is an immediateconsultation between all enforcement bodies, including CIC, CBSA, and theRCMP. In BC, this has included interrogation, where the focus is on the trafficked person's culpability for staying in an exploitive situation.

"Instead of honest collaboration, the RCMP works with well-meaning volunteers who subscribe to an individualist charity model, coming in withBand-Aid solutions after the damage is done," says Shauna Paull, steering committee member. "Substantive community can only emerge when advocates dissolve barriers and create safe spaces so that women can take leadership in their own lives on their own terms."

The Steering Committee is comprised of representatives from the GlobalAlliance Against Trafficking of Women (GAATW-Canada), the Sex WorkersAction Network (SWAN), West Coast Domestic Workers' Association(WCDWA), and the West Coast Women's Legal Education and Action Fund(WCLEAF). The Steering Committee reports to a larger NGO coalition, whichrepresents approximately 70 NGOs in BC. For further information, pleasecontact one of the Steering Committee members:ContactBev Gallagher (West Coast LEAF) Tel: 604.684.8772Deanna Okun-Nachoff (WCDWA) Tel: 604.669.6452Shauna Paull (GAATW-Canada) Tel: 604.209.5776Parichart Ruengvisesh (SWAN) Tel: 604.734.1434