Giving law enforcement agencies the tools they need to do their job and prevent attacks is imperative to ensuring the safety and security of all Canadians against the increasingly complex threat of terrorism.
The proposed amendments would enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to detain suspected terrorists before they can harm Canadians through changes to the Criminal Code’s recognizance with conditions and peace bond provisions, while still requiring judicial authorization of the detention either before (peace bonds) or after the arrest (recognizances).
The amendments would also toughen penalties for violating court ordered conditions on terrorist suspects.
The purpose of the recognizance with conditions measure is to address a situation where a police officer believes that a terrorist activity will soon be carried out but does not necessarily have more details. The tool is flexible enough to be used on individuals who may in some way be connected to carrying out terrorist activity.
The purpose of a terrorism peace bond is to prevent or disrupt a specific individual from committing a terrorism offence.
The proposed amendments would:
- Lower the threshold to obtain a recognizance with conditions in circumstances where a peace officer believes on reasonable grounds that a terrorism activity “may be carried out” instead of the current law that requires that a peace officer must believe that a terrorism offence “will be carried out”, and replaces the additional current requirement that a recognizance is “necessary to prevent” with “is likely to prevent” the carrying out of a terrorist activity;
- Increase the period of preventative detention under a recognizance from 3 days to a possible total of up to 7 days, with periodic judicial review;
- Create a stand-alone terrorism peace bond provision for situations where a person believes an individual “may commit” a terrorism offence, instead of the current “will commit” a terrorism offence requirement. It would include surrendering their passport and extending the duration of the peace bond from 2 years to 5 years for those previously convicted of terrorism offences. Currently the terrorism peace bond is co-located in the Criminal Code with the organized crime peace bond;
- Require judges to consider imposing certain conditions on the person, such as to surrender their passport or not leave the jurisdiction. Judges may also consider imposing conditions such as reporting requirements or electronic monitoring;
- Increase the maximum penalty for breaches of these court-ordered conditions from 2 to 4 years imprisonment;
- Improve the efficiency and effectiveness of peace bonds and recognizance with conditions across Canada by allowing for the use of video-conferencing when necessary and for inter-provincial transfer of existing peace bonds.
The proposed amendments would facilitate the use of these provisions, including making them easier to obtain through the courts and therefore more effective in preventing terrorism.
To ensure appropriate oversight, Attorney General consent would continue to be required for the use of the recognizance with conditions and peace bond powers. Recognizance with conditions would also continue to be subject to annual Ministerial reporting to Parliament on their use.
The proposed measures are needed to ensure public safety, and are consistent with counter-terrorism laws in other countries. The United Kingdom and Australia for example, also have preventative powers including the ability to impose conditions and to detain—although their approaches may vary (e.g., the maximum period of detention is 14 days in the United Kingdom).
Department of Justice Canada