This week, the province named its first Crown attorney dedicated to human trafficking prosecutions.
A local group working to end prostitution and trafficking says this hire is a positive step in the right direction.
Pamela Rubin is with Nova Scotians for the Prevention of Prostitution and Human Trafficking. She says the hire is welcome news, but long overdue.
Now that senior Crown attorney Josie McKinney has been named to the role, Rubin hopes this leads to a culture change with how human trafficking is dealt with in the province.
Rubin tells NEWS 95.7's The Sheldon MacLeod Show there still two areas that need to be examined when it comes to prosecuting these cases. The first has to do with prosecuting the people who are paying for sex, something she says happens frequently in Nova Scotia.
“We need to see those who are buying sex from trafficked people held accountable for their decisions,” she says.
The other issue has to do with how the human trafficking trials operate.
According to Rubin, they rely on the victim as the lone witness, which she says leaves them exposed and rarely results in a conviction.
Instead, Rubin believes human trafficking cases should be treated more like murders.
“Cases can go poof if they’re just relying alone on victim testimony, so the case has to be put together more carefully using all sorts of evidence from multiple sources,” says Rubin.
McKinney is Mi'kmaq and Maliseet, an alumna of the Indigenous Black and Mi'kmaq Initiative at Dalhousie University in Halifax, graduated from Dalhousie in 2006, was appointed a Crown attorney in the Yarmouth office of the Public Prosecution Service in 2011, and moved to the Halifax office in 2018.
She begins her new role on July 14.