Yesterday's Law: Terrorist Group Listing in Canada
22 Pages Posted: 16 Sep 2016 Last revised: 7 Oct 2016
Date Written: September 15, 2016
Canada’s approach to proscription differs from that of other Westminster democracies. With a different constitutional tradition, Canada does not ban organizations; instead it penalizes certain forms of conduct, above mere membership, with terrorist groups. “Terrorist groups” include entities listed proactively by the executive, but also entities that meet a functional definition in Canadian criminal law. In practice, the latter, functionally-defined terrorist groups have figured in most terrorism prosecutions – few cases have involved listed groups. With the new focus on Daesh (a listed group), that may begin to change. However, executive listing raises unresolved constitutional doubts in Canada, prompting concerns that reliance on proscription may be more trouble than it is worth. In many respects, therefore, terrorist group listing is yesterday’s law, sparked by the events on 9/11, but of marginal utility thereafter. There may be reasons of administrative expediency to preserve listing, but the tool is most doubtful when used as a precursor to criminal prosecutions.
Keywords: terrorism,criminal law, proscription,terrorist groups, canada
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