Friday, December 22, 2000

Alberta court upholds child prostitute law

EDMONTON — Alberta's far-reaching child prostitution law, designed to free young people from the grips of pimps, was given new life Thursday after being struck down by a lower court.

The original legislation, passed in 1999, allowed the province to hold teenage prostitutes for up to 72 hours without their consent — even though they had not been charged with a crime.

Six months ago Family Court Judge Karen Jordan ruled that the detention, which the government said was for the young person's own good, violated their rights under the Charter of Freedoms.

But on Thursday the Court of Queen's Bench said Jordan's decision to strike down certain sections of the Protection of Children Involved in Prostitution Act was flawed.

Justice John Rooke said that even though parts of the legislation do "infringe on the liberty interests of the children" that does not mean they are "contrary to the principles of fundamental justice."

Last month, the government of Alberta amended the law to give young people the right to appeal detention. It also increased the period of custody to a maximum of seven weeks.

Alberta Minister of Justice David Hancock said the revisions will stand.

"This ruling has upheld the integrity and constitutionality of the original act," Hancock said. "The amendments made a good law even better."

Some other provinces are drafting, or have already introduced, similar legislation to get young prostitutes off the street.

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