[Stop-traffic] News/Canada: Canada signs UN agreements to prevent crime and people smuggling

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] News/Canada: Canada signs UN agreements to prevent crime and people smuggling
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Jan 19 2001 - 10:47:53 EST

Canada signs UN agreements to prevent crime and people smuggling
By Gloria Galloway
The Canadian Press, December 18, 2000

Canada has signed two United Nations protocols to curb illegal immigration
as well as a broad multi-lateral convention to curb international crime.
The treaty and protocols were signed this week at UN conference in Palermo,
Italy, and are aimed at generating international co-operation to stop
illegal and exploitive trans-border activities.

The two protocols on people smuggling are of particular interest to Canada
since hundreds of illegal migrants, many from China, have washed up on the
shores and jammed border in points in recent years.

Many were brought here by syndicated crime gangs who put them to work as
indentured servants in illegal sweatshops.

One of the protocols is aimed at stopping the smuggling of migrants. The
other is specifically aimed at trafficking in people, particularly women
and children, for use as black-market labourers and sex workers.

"From the very beginning, I have said this (problem) is international in
its scope, that it requires international co-operation and international
solutions," Elinor Caplan, Canada's immigration minister said Friday.

"This protocol puts in place the mechanisms that will allow countries to
share information and have similar approaches so that criminals will not be
able to hide behind borders."

The illegal trans-border trade in human beings has grown exponentially over
the past decade and the UN estimates international criminal organizations
reaped combined profits of about $7 billion US in 1999.

Caplan said she's particularly pleased that trafficking - or sale - of
human beings had been dealt with separately.

"Trafficking deals with not only exploitation but coercion," she said.
"That's the modern-day slavery. All countries have realized that we have
got to send out the strongest possible message that it is a practice we're
determined to put an end to."

Foreign affairs officials who asked not to be named said Friday during a
teleconference that Canada had four priorities going into negotiations on
the protocols, and all have been met.

The first was to develop an international understanding that
people-smuggling is a criminal activity.

The second was to find ways to reduce the tools used by smugglers such as
fraudulent passports that make it easy to smuggle people across borders.

The third priority was to seek a commitment to exchange information and
police co-operation between the signing nations.

And fourth was an agreement that the countries would not erode basic
commitments to human rights as they fought the war on illegal migration.

China has not yet signed the two protocols.

But foreign affairs officials said some countries couldn't get domestic
agreements in place in time to sign this week and may do so in the future.

The United Nations estimates total profits from all activities conducted by
international crime syndicates in 1999 were $1.5 trillion, which exceeds
the gross domestic product of all but three of the world's countries.

Canada already has 25 bilateral agreements that ensure mutual
law-enforcement assistance with other countries.

But the broad convention signed by more than 100 countries this week
creates a larger multinational framework for co-operation.

The foreign affairs officials said it provides practical tools for
co-operation among law-enforcement agencies.

For instance, it requires the countries to set up witness-protection
programs, abolish banking-secrecy laws and confiscate mob wealth.

And it will make extradition easier between countries that don't have
specific treaties, they said.

Until the convention, some countries had no real concept of organized crime
and how to fight it, said one official.

Melanie Orhant
Stop-Traffic Moderator

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