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article imageAlberta instructs police to crack down on prostitutes' clients

By Arthur Weinreb     Feb 5, 2014 in Crime
Edmonton - Police in Alberta have not laid prostitution-related criminal charges since the Supreme Court of Canada struck them down. Now, the Justice minister is directing officers to lay charges against johns and pimps but not the prostitutes.
Yesterday, Justice Minister Jonathan Denis announced police in the province as well as prosecutors, are being instructed to continue to lay prostitution-related charges despite a ruling in December by the Supreme Court of Canada. The directions are following the so-called "Nordic model" which would see a crackdown on johns and pimps but prostitutes would be left alone.
Although prostitution per se was not illegal in Canada, there are three prostitution-related offences; keeping, being an inmate or a found-in in a common bawdy house, living on the avails of prostitution, and communicating in a public place for the purpose of prostitution. These three sections have been struck down by the Supreme Court of Canada.
On Dec. 20, 2013, Canada's top court ruled the three sections of the Criminal Code increased the dangers to sex workers by forcing them to work in remote locations to avoid arrest and prosecution and prohibiting them from hiring bodyguards or taking other measures to protect themselves. The court found all three laws breached the rights of sex workers under Section 7 of the Charter of Rights that guarantees "the right to life, liberty, and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice."
The Supreme Court delayed the implementation of their decision for a period of one year to allow the federal government to draft and pass new legislation that would comply with the Charter.
Although the current laws were, and will be in force until Dec. 20, 2014, police in Alberta decided not to lay prostitution-related charges after the Supreme Court handed down its ruling.
Along with the announcement, a directive was issued instructing police and prosecutors to lay charges against customers of prostitutes and pimps as long as such charges are in the public interest.
In making the announcement, Denis said, "The existing law will be largely followed. I think it would be a mistake to just let this lapse and to operate in a legal vacuum. I'm quite concerned you would see common bawdy houses showing in residential neighbourhoods or even sex tourism starting in Alberta and that's not I want to see in this province."
Not everyone thinks continuing to lay charges is a good idea. D'Arcy DePoe, a past president of the Alberta Trial Lawyers' Association said the courts should not be further clogged up with charges that have already been found to be unconstitutional. He added, "Someone who's charged under the same law will simply file a (Charter) application to have the charge stayed."
Jo-Ann McCartney, a former Edmonton detective, said by the time the cases reach court, the law under which the accused are charged will no longer exist. She said, "They can say they're going to charge them but the charges are going to go nowhere."
Earlier this week, federal Justice Minister Peter MacKay said government lawyers are already drafting new laws and legislation will be introduced well in advance of the Dec. 20 deadline.
More about Supreme court of canada, canada's prostitution offences unconstitutional, alberta justice minister jonathan denis, nordic model, justice minister peter mackay
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