Court Support for Trafficked Persons Video Transcript

Benjamin Perrin, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia:

One of the most important things, and it’s something that service providers can help be a bit of an advocate for victims, is primarily to, first of all to ensure that they’re treated anonymously in court records and files. That’s not just to protect their identity from the trafficker’s associates, it’s really designed to ensure that they can move on with their live later. If someone’s name is in the news articles or court records, or popping up on the internet as a victim of human trafficking, and the details of the case come out, that can really destroy a victim and hamper their rehabilitation. So that’s something that’s very important.

People who are considering testifying in court are given support in terms of understanding the court process and have a role and a voice. Victims in Canada have certain rights as well in proceedings. They have a right to provide a victim impact statement. Importantly that doesn’t need to be through testifying, they can actually submit it in writing, and it can be read into the court record, and used by the judge in sentencing the trafficker. And that’s very important because it talks about all the effects of the crime on the victim that otherwise wouldn’t be heard in the trial, and some victims find that to be a very positive experience, it’s a way for them to move on and recover from this.

Now in terms of the actual court proceedings itself, there are a number of measures that victims may be able to benefit from including: have the public excluded from the courtroom when they are testifying, having a screen so they don’t have to see the trafficker or the accused when they are testifying. These are all designed to try to help create an environment which is conducive to them feeling as safe and comfortable as possible.

But I do think there is a role for service providers to be an advocate to ensure that all these measures that can be taken, are.