Project Protect is a private-public initiative for addressing human trafficking for sexual exploitation. The initiative focuses on money laundering crime to address human trafficking and sexual exploitation issues. Therefore, it is a collaborative and innovative action to protect vulnerable groups in Canada. The primary goals of Project Protect include increasing awareness of human trafficking and identifying and reporting doubtful transactions concerning possible human trafficking to the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) (ACAMS Today, 2019). The initiative also proposed that every financial institution will individually identify alleged human traffickers and report to FINTRAC, which will channel the matter to the intelligence service for investigation. It also proposed that FINTRAC will collaborate with Project Protect to identify red flags related to human trafficking crime. Law enforcement can leverage increased intelligence in prosecuting emerging human trafficking cases.
Impact on Human Trafficking/Online Child Exploitation/Romance Fraud on Society
Project Protect focuses on crimes affecting vulnerable groups in the community, including human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Specifically, the initiative focuses on addressing human trafficking related to sexual exploitation. According to ACAMS Today (2019), money is the root cause of human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Therefore, the initiative aims to investigate money laundering in Canada and disrupt financial transactions that support the crime. Project Protect aims to identify doubtful financial transactions and report to the FINTRAC, which will complete the investigations and inform law enforcement to prosecute human trafficking cases. Project Protect also collaborates with technology institutions to identify and track transactions associated with online child exploitation. The initiative provides significant information and resources for institutions and individuals to acknowledge the occurrence of crime.
Current News and Cases Related to the Project Protect
Sex trafficking is among the challenging crimes to investigate. However, Project Protect focuses on money laundering, which is always linked to crimes like human trafficking and sexual exploitation. The FINTRAC reported shell companies laundering money for suspected sex trafficking crimes (Paez, 2023). According to Paez (2023), sex trafficking criminals exploit vulnerable women and girls using Canadian shell companies. Therefore, human trafficking and sexual exploitation have a global network that requires effective collaboration.
The Roles of Financial Institutions
According to ACAMS Today (2019), the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists (ACAMS) required Canadian financial institutions to help combat money laundering to thwart human trafficking and sexual exploitation. Canadian financial institutions play a key role in combatting human trafficking and sex trafficking by identifying and sharing suspicious money laundering transactions with FINTRAC. These financial institutions fund the Project Protect initiative and provide resources and tools for investigating money laundering, human trafficking, and sexual exploitation cases. Most importantly, Canadian financial institutions collaborate with FINTRAC and law enforcement agencies and share information regarding doubtful human trafficking transactions.
Achievements of the Project Protect
Project Protect has created awareness and improved reporting on human trafficking. The initiative has also improved intelligence in collecting and disseminating human trafficking cases. Another achievement is the improved support for human trafficking victims.
Challenges and Potential Solutions
One of the challenges facing Project Protect in combating human trafficking in Canada is a lack of resources, including law enforcement and victim services. Investigating human trafficking cases is challenging and requires advanced knowledge and training. It is not easy to identify, investigate, and prosecute human trafficking cases because human trafficking victims rarely report the situation. Potential solutions to these challenges include collaborating with international institutions like the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH).
Project Protect addresses human trafficking and sexual exploitation in Canada by monitoring and reporting suspicious financial transactions for suspected human traffickers. The initiative is a private-public collaboration that focuses on protecting vulnerable groups in Canada, including children and women. Canadian financial institutions have helped Project Protect address human trafficking by identifying and reporting financial transactions for suspected human trafficking cases.
ACAMS today. (2019, July 24). ACAMS Today. https://www.acamstoday.org/project-protect-combat-human-trafficking-in-canada/
Paez, B. (2023, March 10). Morning Update: Sex traffickers are using shell companies to launder illicit profits in Canada. The Globe and Mail. https://www.theglobeandmail.com/canada/article-morning-update-sex-traffickers-are-using-shell-companies-to-launder/