All too easy to extradite people from Canada: Botting
British Columbia criminal and extradition lawyer Gary Botting applauds Ottawa's decision to review the Extradition Act and calls for a moratorium on the process until the law is revised.
Botting, principal of Gary N. A. Botting, Barrister and Solicitor, has been advocating for a moratorium on Extradition Act proceedings for years, saying the whole process is “manifestly unfair.”
“It is one-sided, tilted against the person sought and towards their efficient removal to countries eager to prosecute them,” he tells AdvocateDaily.
Botting, author of eight books on extradition, has long held that the Department of Justice International Assistance Group (IAG), in particular, hasn't fulfilled its neutral role in facilitating such applications.
“The IAG has interfered with the extradition process in inappropriate ways, including supplying Canadian evidence to foreign authorities and ensuring that nobody is able to obtain bail,” he says.
Botting points to a high-profile case, described in a CBC article, involving an Ottawa professor who was held in a French jail for three years before being exonerated and returned to Canada.
He notes another CBC report that highlights how a senior officer in IAG provided evidence to bolster France’s application for the extradition of the man.
“The confidential memo obtained by CBC News suggests that [the professor] — a Canadian citizen — never would have been extradited if not for the efforts of a specialized division of Canada's Department of Justice known as the International Assistance Group,” says the article.
The lack of objectivity by IAG staff is “astounding,” Botting says.
“For example, IAG senior officials routinely inform their foreign counterparts that once Canadians are extradited, they should not be granted bail by the foreign country allowing them to return to Canada to await trial, because the extradition process would have to be started all over again.
"That is an utter lie. Bail orders can be crafted in such a way as to allow the person to return for court proceedings by waiving extradition if they don’t appear.”
It’s all too easy for requesting countries to extradite people from Canada, Botting says.
“Often, it is one prosecutor in the requesting country that has an interest in advancing the extradition,” he says.
“All they have to do to initiate an extradition is fill out a Record of the Case with a summary of allegations. Typically, there is no hard evidence, but just the say-so of a handful of witnesses, often anonymous, because they have already reached a deal with the prosecutors.”
Botting notes a case of his own involving a Vancouver Island woman whose husband in England has helped to initiate extradition proceedings to have her prosecuted for “abduction” of their two teenaged boys.
“Both boys have made it clear that they do not wish to return to the United Kingdom,” Botting says.
“After the couple got divorced, the mother returned to her native Canada during a school holiday. The boys, then 13 and 15, accompanied her, intending to return to school in the U.K. within a month, as was stipulated in a court order giving her full custody, with joint guardianship and visitation rights to the father.”
Botting explains that a Calgary court first ordered that the teens should be returned to their father, but later stayed that order until the mother could make representations to the court.
“The mother appealed to the Alberta Court of Appeal, which said the lower court had erred by not taking into account the wishes of the teenaged boys,” he says.
“Overlooked was the fact that the U.K. court had referred the father to the Alberta jurisdiction, which in turn had given an order that the boys were not to be removed from Canada. So the mother could neither take the boys back nor keep them with her in Calgary. The boys independently moved to B.C. to be with their aunt on Vancouver Island.”
Police later returned the boys to their father, Botting adds.
“In the meantime, the father pressed charges against the mother in the U.K. for disobeying a British court order, which refused her application to take the boys permanently to Canada,” he says.
British police drew up a Record of the Case alleging abduction of the boys and a prosecutor signed it, Botting says.
“This document eventually found its way to the IAG in Ottawa, which processed it,” he says. “The extradition hearing followed, months later, in the B.C. Supreme Court, which refused to accept the evidence of the mother or her sons, but only accepted the evidence of the father.”
Botting describes this as an abuse of process.
“The IAG and the Department of Justice are not doing their job,” he says. “They are rubber-stamping every request."
The mother has been committed for extradition, Botting says.
“The only easy way to stop the extradition and its attendant incarceration, at this point, is for the Minister of Justice to intervene,” Botting says.
“The IAG has lost perspective as a facilitator,” he says.