In what has been called Canada’s largest human trafficking case to date, Ferenc Domotor Sr. is accused of being the ringleader in a human trafficking and fraud operation in the City of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada. Domotor Sr. is currently facing human trafficking, fraud, conspiracy and organized crime charges before the Ontario Superior Court of Justice. Along with multiple alleged co-conspirators, Domotor Sr. is accused of luring 19 Hungarian nationals to Canada with the promise of high-paying jobs. Instead, when they arrived they were allegedly forced to work as slave laborers for Domotor’s family-run stucco and construction business. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) arrested ten members of Domotor Sr.’s extended family on charges of unlawful recruitment and exploitation of foreign nationals, and of withholding travel documents. Charges were also filed against other members of Domotor Sr.’s family for receiving financial benefit from the exploitation of the Hungarian workers by collecting the workers’ welfare payments. Allegedly, Domotor financed and arranged for the victims to fly to Canada, and instructed them to claim refugee status upon arrival. Domotor Sr. then locked them in the basements of homes in Hamilton and Ancaster, Ontario where some were fed “three-day-old meals that even dogs would not eat.” Domotor Sr. then allegedly confiscated their passports and forced them to work at a construction site for seven days a week without pay. Several victims claim that they were threatened, ordered not to leave the houses unaccompanied, and beaten. Canada has only recently adopted measures to aid trafficking victims and prosecute traffickers. Trafficking in persons did not become an offense under the Criminal Code until November 2005 due to a lack of widespread awareness about the extent of the problem and insufficient prioritization of the issue in the political sphere. Before this amendment, the Criminal Code did not contain any provisions that specifically forbade trafficking in persons, although several other offenses such as, kidnapping, uttering threats, and extortion were used to prosecute human traffickers. So far, however, convictions under the new law have occurred only in cases involving Canadian women and girls subjected to sexual exploitation. The prosecution of Domotor Sr. marks the first case of forced labor not involving sexual exploitation that will be tried under the law. The prosecution of Domotor Sr. is also significant because the victims were foreign nationals – a move that may indicate Canada’s new willingness to prosecute cases involving foreigners rather than limiting prosecution to cases where victims are Canadian citizens. This case also highlights what immigration agency records have suggested: more human trafficking victims in Canada are forced into manual labor than are forced into sex trafficking. In the past decade, Canada has taken significant steps toward addressing human trafficking. On October 21, 2010, the Canadian federal government introduced the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act. This legislation proposes extensive measures to stop human trafficking by making it easier to prosecute human traffickers, imposing mandatory prison sentences on convicted human smugglers, and holding ship owners and operators accountable for use of their ships in human smuggling operations. Additionally, in 2002 Canada ratified the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (“the Protocol”). Canada made no reservations or declarations and thus is obligated to uphold all parts of the Protocol. Canada’s legal obligations under the treaty include enacting legislative measures to establish criminal offenses for trafficking, taking measures to provide trafficking victims with social and psychological services, and taking steps to prevent human trafficking. Since May 2006, Canada has started to provide foreign victims of human trafficking with temporary residence permits and access to interim healthcare coverage. Subsequent legislation gave victims the ability to obtain a work permit. The successful prosecution of Domotor Sr. would mark a major step forward for Canada in combating human trafficking. The case itself suggests a greater awareness of importance of enforcing human trafficking laws among Canadian law enforcement officers and prosecutors, and a greater willingness to take aggressive measures to protect victims and punish perpetrators. UPDATE: Initially, Domoter Sr. was released on CAD $50,000 bail and the Justice of the Peace ordered him to surrender his passport, refrain from travelling outside Ontario, and remain in his home unless accompanied by one or more of his sureties. Additionally, he was ordered not to have any contact with his alleged trafficking victims or have any foreign nationals residing with him. However, Domotor Sr.’s bail has since been revoked and he is now in custody awaiting trial.