Human smuggling to draw stiffer penalties

Posted by admin on Oct 21st, 2010

Wednesday, October 20, 2010 | CBC News

The Canadian government wants to crack down on human smuggling by bringing in stiffer penalties. A senior government official said proposed changes to be unveiled Thursday would see the introduction of mandatory prison sentences of up to 10 years for those convicted of human smuggling. The official said factors that would to lead to a maximum 10-year term include smuggling more than 50 people, and smuggling people for profit or via a criminal organization.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and Public Safety Minister Vic Toews are expected to announce the new legislation Thursday in Vancouver.

The proposed changes come after the August arrival in British Columbia of 492 Tamil migrants on the ship Sun Sea.

A government official said current law requires that the prosecution of human smuggling prove the accused knew the people being smuggled did not have proper documents to enter Canada.

The proposed changes would make it easier to prove an offence had been committed.

CBC News has learned the proposed legislation will include tougher penalties for ship owners and operators who use their vessels for human smuggling.

Current rules stipulate that Canada-bound vessels of certain types and sizes must file pre-arrival information. The new legislation will increase the penalties for failing to submit this information.

The legislation would also see stronger penalties for ships that fail to follow orders from the minister of transportation to not enter, leave or travel to another part of Canadian waters.

Fines would also be ramped up for repeat offenders.

In a Tuesday speech at a citizenship ceremony in Ottawa, Prime Minister Stephen Harper said the government would introduce “strong new laws” to counter the “deeply disturbing trends” of mass arrivals through human smuggling “designed to jump the queue and work around the system.”

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