The Human Trafficking Matrix: Law, Policy and Anti-Trafficking Practices in the Canadian Criminal Justice System
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International and domestic anti-trafficking agendas received an enormous boost in 2002 from the re-definition of human trafficking as a major and pressing transnational organized crime threat through the enactment of the UN Trafficking Protocol. This dissertation traces the way in which the definition of human trafficking and subsequent efforts to combat it are shaped in local context-specific ways through the crime-security nexus (Pratt, 2005) and, what I call, the human trafficking matrix. While the issue of trafficking has received wide-ranging, interdisciplinary scholarly attention, there is to date only three empirical Canadian studies that examine frontline anti-trafficking policing and prosecution efforts with a focus on migrant worker justice (Millar and ODoherty 2015), on international trafficking cases (Ferguson 2012) and on Indigenous communities (Kaye 2017), as well as a handful of European (Meshkovska et al. 2016; Lester et al. 2017) and American studies (Farrell et al., 2015, 2016). This doctoral dissertation combines detailed analysis of relevant national and international laws and policies, case law, court documents, transcripts, and interviews with legal and criminal justice actors to provide an empirically grounded study of front line anti-trafficking policing and prosecution in Canada, with a particular focus on the province of Ontario. This dissertation asks two main questions: 1) How have international discourses around organized crime threats to national security and corollary concerns with victims and human rights come to shape international and domestic legal regimes and domestic criminal justice responses to criminal activity defined as trafficking? and 2) What are the varied local effects of these developments on the culture, organization and decision-making of frontline of anti-trafficking criminal justice enforcement and prosecution? The local empirical research of this dissertation displays that the international and national anti-trafficking regimes, which are embedded within the human trafficking matrix and are, at least in part, fueled by the crime-security nexus, have entailed a variety of practical effects on the frontline. These not only show the continuation of the historically longstanding criminalization of various activities associated with the sex trade and certain marginalized groups, but also reveal some interesting and novel effects relating to, for example, the infusion of resources, the development of various modes of policing and prosecution, the production and deployment of forms of knowledge and expertise, as well as the use of well-documented legal tactics in new ways that not only reshape trafficking victims and offenders but that also continually work to reshape and reproduce the problem of trafficking on the frontline.