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Human trafficking
Victims await ruling
Article mis en ligne le jeudi 4 octobre 2012

Eight Filipina live-in caregivers backed by PINAY, a local social justice advocacy group, crossed swords with the Human Rights Commission in a Montreal courthouse on Sept. 20 during a judicial review of the commission’s decisions.

The caregivers are seeking $10,000 each from the commission for alleged gross negligence and irregularities in the handling of their complaints and for failure to protect them from civil rights violations. In May 2009, a group of 26 women filed a complaint with PINAY’s assistance against John Aurora, a West-Island immigration consultant and recruiter who passed away in September 2009.

Aurora often travelled to Asia, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia with a secretary to recruit workers for an average fee of $4000 US in return for jobs.

Upon arrival in Montreal at their own expense, most of the 26 women did not get the live-in caregiver job offers that they were promised and had paid for overseas. Once landed, they were allegedly subjected to abusive employment, housing and other treatments. Many worked unpaid while awaiting the confirmation of a new job offer and the completion of government procedures for the issuance of new work permits.

The women also signed leases with Aurora to rent his rooms while enduring alleged substandard living conditions that included sleeping on the floor and overcrowding.

The commission first dismissed their case in 2010 due to Aurora’s death and the fact that his daughter denied involvement. The case was dismissed again last August based on a lack of evidence, despite the submission of additional evidence of alleged discrimination and exploitation.

The group’s lawyer, Melissa Arango, filed a motion stating that the handling of the case was fraught with irregularities, negligence and at least five major problems. She accuses the commission of waiting nine months after the filing of the complaint, instead of two or three, to meet with half of the victims. She contests the ruling that Aurora’s succession cannot be held liable for punitive damages, contrary to a 2010 Supreme Court decision.

Evelyn Calugay, PINAY’s current president, says the commission’s handling of the case clearly shows a lack of will to protect domestic workers from racial and gender discrimination.

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