More Examples of Canadian Cases of Human Trafficking
The Domotor Case
The 2012 Domotor case was Canada’s first conviction involving forced labour. Eleven members of an extended family of Roma were accused of recruiting mostly men from their native Hungary to work in Hamilton, Ontario. Several family members involved in the human trafficking ring pleaded guilty and others were found guilty after a criminal trial. The 19 trafficked persons were coached to lie to Canadian immigration authorities. The traffickers paid for their flights to Canada, then made them claim refugee status, sign up for welfare and work long hours for the Domotor family’s construction company for little or no pay.
In Hamilton, the men were kept in basements, fed scraps and were subject to threats against themselves and their families in Hungary. The government benefit funds they received were confiscated by the traffickers. The traffickers also forced them to hand over their identity documents and steal cheques from mailboxes.
The Domotor case is the biggest human trafficking case to arise in Canada since the Criminal Code charge came into effect in 2005.
– PACT Ottawa
My Story: I was never paid during my time in Canada. I worked about 14 hours a day, every day. I was not permitted to take any time off, with the exception of Christmas. I was told that ‘you are her just to work’. They had so many men, they didn’t need me. So they contracted me out to another person. This person did not know I was a slave. This person paid them. He didn’t know I never got any money.
Jacques Leonard-St. Vil
In November 2008, a 24-year-old man from Longueuil, Quebec, named Jacques Leonard-St. Vil was convicted of human trafficking under the Criminal Code. In December 2006, he recruited a 20-year-old Montreal woman for the purpose of sexual exploitation by telling her that “there was money to be made in hosting promotional parties” but it required some money up front. They discussed the possibility of the woman working as an exotic dancer in the Toronto area as a way of acquiring that money.
She was soon working in several strip clubs six-days-a-week. He convinced her of the greater earning potential of offering extra services to clients, and that it was no different than past sexual encounters that she had had, except she would now be paid for them.
Soon after she started offering extra services, which included oral sex and vaginal intercourse, she and Leonard-St. Vil argued. She did not want to continue. He became violent, hitting her with a broom after she refused to turn $800 over to him. Eventually, after more beatings, the woman turned all of her earnings over to him — about $60,000 according to police. She contacted police after the threats and beatings continued.
In fall 2008, a 20-year-old woman went to Peel Regional Police to report that a 22-year-old Ontario man named Vytautas Vilutis was using intimidation and threats to sexually exploit her. She said that she made $10,000 for him in just a few weeks through online Craigslist classified ads, and that he took her phone calls, set up her “dates,” kept track of her appointments and therefore how much money she owed him each morning. It was after he threatened her for not leaving the cash out one morning that she reported him to police. Vilutis pleaded guilty in April 2009 both to charges of human trafficking (s. 279.01) and to receiving a material benefit (s. 279.02). He was convicted under both provisions — the first person in Canada to be convicted for benefiting from human trafficking.
Michael Lennox Mark
Michael Lennox Mark was convicted on November 10, 2008, for selling a 17-year-old girl for sexual services. Because this was before the mandatory sentences for child trafficking were added to the Criminal Code, he received a two-year sentence. However, he only spent a week in jail following his conviction because he received credit for the time he spent in pre-trial custody.
Update on Michael Ng
Earlier in this module, you learned about Michael Ng, the Vancouver man who brought two Chinese women into Canada on the pretence that they would work as waitresses in his restaurant. Instead, Ng forced them to provide sexual services to clients in his massage parlour. Ng initially received a 15-month jail sentence. The Crown appealed this decision in 2008.
While Ng’s acquittal on human trafficking charges under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act was upheld on evidentiary grounds, his sentence for prostitution-related convictions under the Code was found to be inadequate. In 2009, the B.C. Court of Appeal increased his sentence by one year to 27 months to recognize that the original sentence was “unfit” and to acknowledge the significance of deterrence and denunciation of these crimes.
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