Identify Trafficking

Some considerations for Identifying Human Trafficking

– Are they doing the work and being paid what was promised?
– Are they being forced or pressured to work?
– Do they have access to their papers/travel documents/identification?
– Are they or their loved ones being threatened?
– Are they free to go where they please?


Human trafficking is a global and multi-faceted phenomenon. This modern form of slavery is characterized by the exploitation of women, men and children who are deprived of liberty. The United Nations has stated that human trafficking has exceeded the illegal sale of guns and drugs, and is now the fastest growing criminal activity in the world.

Human Trafficking is not the same as Human Smuggling
While the two terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to distinguish between human trafficking and human smuggling. The major difference involves matters of exploitation.

What’s the Difference?

HUMAN SMUGGLING involves the organized transport of persons across an international border, usually in exchange for a sum of money, and sometimes involving dangerous conditions. The relationship between the smuggler and the person being smuggled is a voluntary business transaction which ends when the client reaches the intended destination. In this case, the financial component of a human smuggling transaction is a one-time fee paid to the smuggler before arrival or installment payments after arrival.

However, smuggling turns into a situation of HUMAN TRAFFICKING if there is exploitation of people through force, coercion, threat, fraud or deception including acts generally defined as human rights abuses. The relationship between trafficker and victim does not end upon arrival at destination, and the trafficked person may be subjected to debt bondage, forced labor or sexual exploitation.

Human Trafficking occurs both across international borders and within national boundaries. International Human Trafficking involves someone who, in the process of being trafficked, crosses an international border. Although it may include an element of human smuggling, internationally trafficked persons do not necessarily enter a country clandestinely or illegally. They may enter with a valid passport, visa or working papers.

Domestic Human Trafficking

While human trafficking is usually associated with migrants who are trafficked into Canada, it may also be a purely domestic phenomenon occurring wholly within Canada. Vulnerable, economically challenged and socially dislocated sectors of the Canadian population represent a potential pool of trafficking victims. This includes teenage runaways, as well as those who may be lured to urban centres or who migrate there voluntarily.

False Promises Made to Lure People Into Trafficking

– Money
– Work
– Education
– Freedom
– The life of your dreams
– Financial help for the family
– A better life
– A promising future

How to Recognize A Person Who is Being Trafficked

People who are being trafficked may:
– Speak neither English nor French, or may not speak on their own behalf
-May be accompanied by someone who is controlling them
– Originate from foreign countries or from another city or province within Canada
– Be unaware of local surroundings even though they have been in the area for an extended period of time;
– Show evidence of control, intimidation or abnormal psychological fear;
– Not be able to move or leave job;
– Have bruises or show other signs of abuse;
– Show signs of malnourishment;
– Be frequently accompanied or moved by their trafficker.


What is the Mindset of A Person Who Has Been Trafficked?

The person may:
– Not self-identify as a victim of human trafficking. People who are trafficked may not appear to need social services because they have a place to live, food to eat, medical care and what they think is a paying job;
– Be taught to distrust outsiders, especially law enforcement. They have a sense of fear and distrust toward the government and police (i.e. fear of deportation in international cases);
– Feel better in their current situation than where they came from, even if they are being exploited;
– Be completely unaware of their rights or may have been intentionally misinformed about their rights in Canada;
– Fear for their families or loved ones as some traffickers may threaten to harm them if they report their situations to, or cooperate with, law enforcement.

If you wish to report a crime anonymously, call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).