Cutting Off the Flow of Funds to Terrorists: Whose Funds? Which Funds? Who Decides?

Posted: 10 Feb 2002

See all articles by Kevin E. Davis

Kevin E. Davis

New York University School of Law


This paper describes how the drafters of Canada's Anti-Terrorism Act have responded to the challenge of defining the relationship that must exist between individuals and property on the one hand, and terrorist activity on the other hand, in terms of both certainty and proximity, in order to trigger criminal penalties. The approach taken in the new legislation is compared to the approach that Canadian law has previously taken to similar issues, as well as to the approach adopted in the International Convention for the Suppression of the Financing of Terrorism. The fact that the legislation is potentially applicable to a broad range of conduct and property - the Act essentially applies to all people who knowingly engage in commercial dealings with terrorists and to any related property - is defended on the grounds that when facing poorly understood threats it would be unwise to decide precipitously that certain types of conduct are not subject to criminal sanction or that certain types of property are not subject to forfeiture. However, the legislation is criticized on the grounds that it gives law enforcement officials too much power to determine which persons and property will be targeted, and judges, especially appellate judges, too little power. In this respect, relatively vague yet potentially broad legislation would have been preferable.

Keywords: Terrorism, financing of terrorism, terrorist activity, forfeiture

Suggested Citation

Davis, Kevin E., Cutting Off the Flow of Funds to Terrorists: Whose Funds? Which Funds? Who Decides?. THE SECURITY OF FREEDOM: ESSAYS ON CANADA'S ANTI-TERORISM BILL, Ronald J. Daniels, Patrick Macklem & Kent Roach, Eds., University of Toronto Press, November 2001. Available at SSRN:

Kevin E. Davis (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
Vanderbilt Hall, Room 335
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
212-992-8843 (Phone)

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