section 279.03

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

This section criminalizes the concealment, removal, withholding, or destruction of another persons travel or identity documents for the purpose of aiding an offence related to human trafficking or forced marriage.

SECTION WORDING

279.03 Every person who, for the purpose of committing or facilitating an offence under subsection 279.01(1) or 279.011(1), conceals, removes, withholds or destroys any travel document that belongs to another person or any document that establishes or purports to establish another persons identity or immigration status is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term of not more than five years, whether or not the document is of Canadian origin or is authentic.

EXPLANATION

Section 279.03 of the Criminal Code of Canada deals with the act of concealing, removing, withholding, or destroying travel documents or identification documents for the purpose of committing or facilitating an offence related to human trafficking or forced marriage. This provision is designed to prevent individuals from being subjected to exploitation by preventing them from leaving the country or obtaining assistance. The section specifies that anyone who commits such an act will be guilty of an indictable offence and may be punished with imprisonment for up to five years. It does not matter if the document is of Canadian origin or not, or whether it is genuine or not. This section serves as an essential mechanism for law enforcement to combat human trafficking and forced marriage. It ensures that criminals cannot use travel documents or identification documents to control, exploit, or coerce individuals into participating in illegal activities. It also ensures that victims have access to the documents necessary to leave their situation and seek help or assistance from authorities. Overall, section 279.03 represents the Canadian government's commitment to protecting vulnerable populations and preventing human trafficking and forced marriage. By criminalizing the act of withholding travel documents or identification documents, it sends a clear message that such actions will not be tolerated in Canada.

COMMENTARY

Section 279.03 of the Criminal Code of Canada deals with the offence of concealment or destruction of travel documents or identity documents for the purpose of facilitating human trafficking or forced labour offences. The section recognizes that the ability of traffickers to control the movement and identity of their victims is a key factor enabling their exploitation. The legislation penalizes accomplices to such crimes who knowingly participate in this form of human trafficking. The legislation recognizes that the concealment or destruction of a travel document or an identity document, such as a passport or driver's license, can significantly contribute to the victim's sense of powerlessness, helplessness, and dependence on the trafficker. Therefore, the section is designed to foster greater protection of vulnerable populations by preventing the criminal act of removing documents that could assist in the identification of a victim. An individual convicted of this offence can face a sentence of up to five years in prison. While this might be seen as a relatively lenient penalty compared to other serious crimes such as kidnapping, the importance of the section should not be underestimated. It is a crucial component of human trafficking legislation because it targets specifically the tools used by traffickers to maintain control over their victims. Without travel documents, victims become even more vulnerable, making it difficult for them to escape or seek help. It is important to note that the legal provisions under this legislation apply to all individuals, irrespective of their citizenship or immigration status. This ensures that the question of whether a trafficked individual has valid legal status in the country is irrelevant in the enforcement and prosecution of above stipulated crimes. Instead, the focus is maintained on human protection through the criminalization of those who facilitate the crime of human trafficking. This section, when read in conjunction with other sections of the Criminal Code pertaining to human trafficking, underscores the Canadian government's commitment to combating human trafficking and protecting the rights of vulnerable populations. It is particularly essential in cases where traffickers manipulate border controls and identity documents to evade scrutiny. The legislation reflects an acknowledgment that the issue of human trafficking is complex and multifaceted, that requires a concerted effort with regional, national and international partners. In conclusion, the Criminal Code of Canada has been employed effectively to protect individuals from the scourge of human trafficking in the country. The inclusion of Section 279.03 in the Code serves to affirm Canada's commitment to human rights and the protection of the most vulnerable members of its society. For those who facilitate the abhorrent crime of human trafficking by concealing or destroying travel documents or identity documents, there are legal ramifications, illustrating that this activity is not tolerated in Canadian society.

STRATEGY

Section 279.03 of the Criminal Code of Canada pertains to the offence of concealing, removing, withholding, or destroying any travel document or identity document belonging to another person with the intention to commit or facilitate an offence under section 279.01(1) or section 279.011(1). This provision is a critical tool in prosecuting human trafficking crimes, as traffickers often use the confiscation of travel and identity documents to exert control over their victims and prevent them from escaping. In dealing with this section of the Criminal Code, prosecutors must consider several strategic issues. One essential strategy is to gather evidence through thorough investigations and the collection of witness statements. This can be challenging, as victims of human trafficking are often fearful of speaking out, and traffickers are adept at concealing their activities. Therefore, prosecutors must work closely with law enforcement agencies and victim service organizations to build rapport with victims and establish trust. They must ensure that victims are aware of their rights and provide them with the necessary support, protection, and resources. Another critical strategy is to carefully assess the available evidence and choose the most appropriate charges to lay. Section 279.03 is one of several provisions that may apply in human trafficking cases, and prosecutors must determine which charges will provide the strongest case. In some instances, a conviction under this section alone may be insufficient to secure a meaningful sentence. Therefore, prosecutors may consider laying additional charges such as human trafficking, sexual assault, or assault. In addition to laying charges, prosecutors may also consider a range of strategies to prevent document confiscation in the first place. This can include working with immigration authorities to implement stronger controls over travel and identity documents, training border officials to recognize potential trafficking indicators, and providing education to vulnerable communities on how to avoid falling prey to traffickers. Finally, it is essential to consider the potential impact that these charges may have on victims. The confiscation of travel and identity documents can have a devastating effect on victims and can make it difficult for them to rebuild their lives once they escape from trafficking. Prosecutors must, therefore, approach these cases with sensitivity and empathy, ensuring that victims are provided with the necessary support and resources to overcome these challenges. In conclusion, section 279.03 of the Criminal Code is a critical tool in prosecuting human trafficking offences. In dealing with this provision, prosecutors must be strategic in gathering evidence, laying charges, preventing document confiscation, and considering the impact on victims. By taking a multifaceted approach, prosecutors can enhance the chances of securing a conviction and sending a strong message that human trafficking will not be tolerated in Canada.