Monday, July 31, 2000

Alberta to appeal child prostitution ruling

Bina Border
Bina Border

EDMONTON — The Alberta government says it will take the fight over its child prostitution law to a higher court.

Last week the The Protection of Children in Prostitution Act was ruled unconstitutional by a provincial court judge. The law allows police and social workers to apprehend children working in the sex trade, and take them off the streets for three days.

On Monday the province announced it will make some policy changes and appeal the lower court decision.

MLA Heather Forsythe says she's been getting heart-wrenching phone calls from parents upset with the ruling.

Forsythe spearheaded the Klein government's child prostitution law. She says the decision by the province will make one mother she talked to especially happy.

"She has a 15-year-old on the street, and under a notorious pimping group well-known to all police across the country," said Forsythe. "And now I feel relief that I can call her and tell her that we will begin again the process of apprehending her daughter."

Forsythe says the province will appeal the case, but with some immediate policy changes to address some of the concerns raised by the courts.

She says young prostitutes will be given the opportunity to see a lawyer, and to appear before a judge within 72 hours.

One of the the lawyers representing two 17-year-olds in the original court case says the decision is politically motivated. Bina Border says the courts have already spoken and the province should listen.

"It would seem to me that the government should do the right thing and concede the fact that the act is illegal, and fix it. And if you don't do that I think you, as a government, are putting yourself above the law," said Border.

Border says the act could be written in a way that would stand up to judicial scrutiny.

Forsythe says the province will see what happens with the appeal before it decides if it will rewrite the law or take other steps.

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