Monday, July 31, 2000 10:46 PM EDT

Alberta vows to keep using child prostitution law

EDMONTON — Alberta police will continue to apprehend child prostitutes, even though the law allowing it has been struck down by a Calgary court.

"We are going to continue to take care of children who are at risk and children who are being abused by sexual perverts."

The child prostitution legislation gives authorities the power to take children suspected of being involved in the sex trade to a safe-house where they are offered support and counselling. They can be held for up to 72 hours.

On Friday, that law was ruled unconstitutional by a judge. But the government plans to appeal the ruling.

Justice Minister Dave Hancock says there will be some changes made in the way apprehensions are carried out.

Children will now be given a chance to appear before a judge or to see a lawyer.

"The bottom line is the children will have all of the rights the court has decided they should have under the policies and process," says Hancock. "But we are going to continue to take care of children who are at risk and children who are being abused by sexual predators in this province," he says.

Children will continue to be detained until the court decision is reviewed by a higher court.

One of the lawyers who challenged the child prostitution law, Bina Border, says: "It would seem to me the government should do the right thing and concede the fact that the Act is illegal and fix it. If you don't do that, I think you as a government are putting yourself above the law and suggesting you can do things that are illegal whereas citizens can't."

The government's decision to keeping using the law was supported by some groups that work with young prostitutes.

"I think then we're not losing a bunch of kids to the street. I still think we are going to be able to connect with them and show them that their world can be very different," says Michele Deis, a Safe House team leader.

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Created: December 6, 2000
Last modified: January 17, 2001
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