Friday, December 22, 2000

Globe and Mail Update
with Canadian Press

Court upholds Alberta child-prostitution law

An Alberta court has upheld a controversial provincial law that allows authorities to detain suspected child prostitutes.

On Thursday, Mr. Justice John Rooke of Alberta's Court of Queen's Bench overturned a ruling by Family Court Judge Karen Jordan, who last summer had declared the act unconstitutional for not allowing detained teenagers the right to answer the allegations or to appeal their detentions.

"Judge Jordan did not have the jurisdiction to strike down certain parts of the [Protection of Children Involved in Prostitution] Act," Judge Rooke wrote.

"Jordan was in error in holding that the procedures employed by the Act to confine children in need of protection, although they did infringe on the liberty interests of the children, were contrary to the principles of fundamental justice."

Judge Rooke's decision is a victory for the Alberta government, which has steadfastly defended a law it created to help get child prostitutes off the streets.

Other provinces, including Ontario, British Columbia, Manitoba and Saskatchewan, have enacted similar laws or have expressed interest in Alberta's legislation.

Despite Judge Jordan's ruling this past summer, police continued to apprehend child prostitutes to safe houses for up to five days.

The province amended the law last month to address some of the concerns expressed by Judge Jordan in her July ruling. Suspected child prostitutes in Alberta can be detained without charges for up to seven weeks. But they must now be informed in writing about the reasons for their confinement and to their right to legal representation.

The initial time period for confinement has been increased to five days. Authorities can also apply to extend the confinement for two additional periods of 21 days each.

The idea is to protect a child prostitute from a pimp and give the child time to get some help to get off the street permanently.

Since the act was proclaimed, more than 427 apprehensions have been made involving 194 girls and boys. Most were aged 15 and 16, but there were several 12-year-olds.

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Created: December 22, 2000
Last modified: January 17, 2001
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