Improving the lives of Women and GirlsSoroptimist International of the Americas, Inc. Western Canada Region
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News in the fight against Human Trafficking

Two news releases have been distributed lately concerning the fight against Human Trafficking.  They are:

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

Miss Canada, Tara Teng, takes the fight for justice across Canada

 

Vancouver, BC — Tara Teng, Miss Canada 2011, is taking the fight for justice on the road this summer in a cross-country tour, Ignite the Road to Justice, that kicks off Monday, August 15 in Vancouver. Ignite the Road to Justice, which runs from August 15 to ending in Toronto on September 4, seeks to ignite a powerful grassroots movement that speaks up for the oppressed, says Teng.

 

Teng will be joined by fellow abolitionist, author and former Madam, Tania Fiolleau; recording artist, Kevin Boese; and several human-trafficking informants. The team will partner with key anti-human trafficking groups in each community to hold events that provide opportunities to educate and stimulate participation to fight human trafficking. Fiolleau says, “This could be your sister, your best friend’s girl, your cousin, niece or even your mother! Anyone from any background can fall prey to human trafficking and exploitation. We must stop turning the other cheek and grab the bull by the horns, unify and stand up in unity and fight fiercely for the oppressed”.

Teng spent the summer traveling through California, Thailand, and Cambodia to speak about social justice and to meet some of the women affected by human trafficking. The 22- year old has been deeply effected by the people she now keeps regular contact with and who have become dear friends. “I have witnessed human trafficking and other forms of injustice all around the world, but the more you learn about it,” she says, “the more you have to start asking yourself hard questions like, ‘How have I directly or indirectly contributed to this injustice?’”

 

It’s a long, uphill battle but I am encouraged because everywhere I look there are concerned citizens standing up and getting serious about ending human exploitation, says Teng.   Teng says we will not tolerate this any longer- not in our cities, our nation or our world and that’s the core of this tour.    “Join us, be a voice and let’s end this injustice in our lifetime, “concludes Teng.

 

To support Tara Teng and friends on the national Ignite the Road to Justice Tour, visit ignitetheroadtojustice.com

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For more information:

Tara Teng, email: tara.teng@gmail.com , twitter: www.twitter.com/misstarateng

Lori Teng, Tour Administrator, email: terrynlori@shaw.ca, ph. 604-831-9527

 

The Ignite the Road to Justice kickoff event will be held at 7 p.m. on August 15, 2011 at Coastal Church, 1160 West Georgia St., Vancouver, BC.

 

To learn more about Tara Teng’s activities, read her blog at impact.twu.ca

 

B.C. Government Admits Cutting OCTIP Executive Director Position as RCMP Announce Human Trafficking Arrest

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

August 5, 2011

 

VANCOUVER, BC – The B.C. Government has finally admitted that it has eliminated the position of Executive Director of the B.C. Office to Combat Human Trafficking, (OCTIP) after news of the cut was reported in the media this week. This decision was made without any consultation with affected groups outside of government, and comes as the RCMP have announced the arrest yesterday of an alleged human trafficker at Vancouver International Airport.

 

“[T]he Executive Director position held by Robin Pike has been eliminated,” says an email from Lynda Cavanaugh, Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Crime Prevention at the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General dated August 4, 2011 (complete email appears below). The email has been distributed widely to organizations that have worked with OCTIP.

 

“With the launch of the on-line human trafficking training curriculum, available to anyone who would like to take it, we expect there will be an increased level of expectation to respond to the issue of human trafficking,” wrote Cavanaugh.

 

Cavanaugh states in her email that OCTIP has been “restructured” to meet the expected demand, but admits OCTIP remains a “distinct entity” that will have just three employees of its own after the Executive Director position has been eliminated.

 

“How can OCTIP meet an increased demand for its life-saving services to victims of human trafficking when the B.C. Government has sent the most senior member of the office packing?” asked University of British Columbia Law Professor Benjamin Perrin, author of Invisible Chains: Canada’s Underground World of Human Trafficking. Perrin is one of Canada’s foremost authorities on human trafficking and has collaborated with OCTIP since 2007.

 

B.C. is recognized as a source, destination, and transit province for sex trafficking and forced labour trafficking. Since 2007, OCTIP has coordinated critical assistance to over 100 trafficked persons in the province. Cases continue to arise, including yesterday as the RCMP announced it had arrested Mumtaz Ladha, 55, at the Vancouver International Airport for allegedly trafficking a 21-year-old woman from Africa into domestic servitude.

 

Solicitor General Shirley Bond has issued statements to the media denying any cuts have been made to OCTIP, and claiming that the fight against human trafficking remains a priority for the B.C. Government. However, she has declined to do any interviews and the facts show otherwise (see below: “Just the Facts: Then and Now”).

 

“When you look at the facts, the fight against human trafficking is no longer a priority for the B.C. Government,” said Perrin. “The B.C. Office to Combat Trafficking in Persons no longer has its own Executive Director, its budget has been slashed by more than 50%, it no longer reports directly to the Deputy Solicitor General, and its full time staff complement will be just two people this September.”

 

OCTIP’s drastically reduced budget of $300,000 – from an original $650,000 – is the approximate amount that a sex trafficker earns from exploiting a single victim annually, according to figures from the Criminal Intelligence Service Canada.

 

“B.C. Premier Christy Clark has spoken out strongly against human trafficking and raised the issue to public attention when she herself was in the media,” said Perrin. “I’m calling on Premier Clark to make a commitment to restore funding to support the fight against human trafficking and meet with affected groups to determine the best way forward.”

 

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For more information, contact:

 

Prof. Benjamin Perrin

Faculty of Law, University of British Columbia

Mobile: (778) 928-9327

Email: perrin@law.ubc.ca

 

More information on BC’s OCTIP is available at:

http://www.pssg.gov.bc.ca/octip/

 

 

Is Human Trafficking a Priority for the B.C. Government?

 

Just the Facts: Then and Now

 

Position of Executive Director of OCTIP eliminated

* Then: Since 2007 when OCTIP was created, it has been led by its own Executive Director with specialized expertise in human trafficking issues

* Now: OCTIP’s Executive Director position has been eliminated.

 

OCTIP’s Budget Has Been Slashed by More Than 50%

* Then: When OCTIP was founded in 2007, its annual budget was $650,000 – and remained at this level until just before the end of the 2010 Fiscal Year. The funding came from the provincial Victims of Crime Fund, Deputy Solicitor General, and Ministry of Children and Family Development.

 

* Now: OCTIP’s annual budget is just $300,000 – a cut of more than 50% of its original budget. Its funding from the BC Victims of Crime Fund was completely eliminated, without any public notice or consultation. These cuts were never publicly announced when they were made by the B.C. government and only came to light when the position of Executive Director of OCTIP was slashed on July 29, 2011. The BC Public Accounts data does not report OCTIP’s budget as a distinct line item, so it was impossible for the public to know of this cut until its impact began to be felt.

 

OCTIP’s Full Time Staff Reduced to Two in September 2011

* Then: At its highpoint OCTIP had a complement of 6 full time employees, and 16 practicum students.

* Now: OCTIP will have just 2 full time employees this September. A third will be on maternity leave, and the BC Government is not filling her position since they claim she has specialized skills difficult to replace. A position for an “Aboriginal Research and Policy Analyst” never received permanent funding.

 

OCTIP No Longer Reports Directly to the Deputy Solicitor General

* Then: When OCTIP was founded in 2007, it reported to the Deputy Solicitor General of B.C.

* Now: OCTIP now reports to a less senior official, the Assistant Deputy Minister for Community Safety and Crime Prevention at the Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General.

 

 

 

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