According to media outlets Global National and Canwest New Service, the Canada’s federal Conservative government plans to propose a new bill that would impose tighter restrictions on expat Canadians and travelling citizens who are convicted of crimes abroad. The legislation would require convicts would not be easily extradited back to Canada to serve their sentences.
This legislation is made up of series of amendments to the International Transfer of Offenders Act. It would equip the minister of public safety with powers to veto or block the return of convicted offenders who may be viewed as a threat to the public safety of the Canadian people.
It also allows the minister to bar the return of persons who may continue engaging in criminal activity once they are back on Canadian soil, as well as those seen as a threat to the safety of children, especially those who have been convicted of sexual abuse.
It will be up to Public Safety Minister Peter Van Loan to introduce the legislation Thursday in the Commons.
This call for amendments to the current law was initiated by the actions of a federal judge who chose to reject arguments made in court in 2008 that allowing a convicted child molester extradition to a Canadian prison would endanger the security of the Canadian people at large.
The source of contention highlighted by Federal Court Justice Michael Kelen was his ruling on the phrase “security of Canada.” His argument was that this phrase has normally been interpreted in solely in reference to threats of general terrorism and warfare against Canada or threats to Canadians as a whole. Kelen’s decision was not appealed so Arend Getkate, an Ontario native who was serving a sentence for child molestation in the state of Georgia was allow to finish his time home in Canada.
Now, the government has decided to present the new legislation in order to clearly outline and expand the specific criteria that would allow suspension of a criminal’s transfer back to Canada. Since January 1, a total of twenty-three transfers have been conducted. A total of 241 applications are awaiting approval.
Those who oppose the Harper government’s tactics have accused the administration from turning its back on expat Canadians who become buried in foreign justice systems.
The Conservatives have steadily reduced the amount of prisoner transfers that receive approval since assuming office in 2006.