Maybe what I'll do is just take a little step back and explain the broader framework in which this amendment is taking place. I know there have been some questions about the kidnapping offence, forceable confinement, the abduction offences, etc. What we have in the Criminal Code is a broader framework that deals with abduction, and child abduction types of cases.
The kidnapping offence is an offence of general application. It can be applied in cases involving abductions of children, of course, but really it is there to deal not just with abductions of children but also with any kind of movement, the taking of one person from one place to another against their will, which is a violation of fundamental human rights enshrined in our charter. This can take place in the context of a child. It can take place in the context of an adult victim as well.
The origins of these offences are in fact quite ancient British law. We can't exactly pinpoint the exact year but we know they came about hundreds of years ago, and, in fact, the kidnapping offence in Britain is still a common law offence. It's not in the statute.
We know they were developed for different purposes. We also know that the elements of the offences are different. So kidnapping is really an offence against the person and therefore we are concerned with consent in kidnapping. So whether or not the person agreed to go with the alleged kidnapper really is the critical issue that we look at when we deal with kidnapping.
The difficulty with using the kidnapping offence in relation to children is to what extent and how does the court evaluate whether or not a child consented. The court has given some guidance on that and we know now that where a child is very young, the consent issue is not going to be a terribly live one when it's, for example, Kienan Hebert who was only three. That issue might become a live one where the child is older—12, 13, 14. I'm not exactly sure, but there are issues about mature minors, etc.
Given the concern that sometimes it might be difficult to apply kidnapping in the cases of child abductions, the child abduction specific offences were developed, and they are truly offences against the custodial rights of parents. The court will not look at or find relevant the consent of the child. What the court is looking at is the consent of the parent or person who has lawful authority over the child.
What happens when we impose a mandatory minimum penalty in the context of the kidnapping offence is that we are potentially applying it to a broad range of cases, because of the breadth of the offence, because the offence is an offence of general application. So we're concerned that a mandatory minimum might be applicable in a case where we might prefer to have one of the parental child abduction offences used. However, because it's such a broad offence, it could in fact be used and we do know there have been charges against parents in these types of cases.
We unfortunately don't have any reported case law where the kidnapping offence was charged and the court actually looked at how the kidnapping offence could be applicable in a parental child abduction type of scenario. But we do know that it is applicable, and that is a cause for concern, where we might want a judge to factor in the particular circumstances of the case involving a parent. As you pointed out, custody and access disputes often involve the taking of children, but not to the child's detriment—or at least, that's not the intent of the parent.
My understanding is that the government was concerned about that, which is the birth, if you will, of this particular amendment, so that it will not apply in the context of parental child abduction cases. We do have those offences—there are sections 282 and 283, which are intended to deal with those types of scenarios—but the bottom line is that kidnapping, being an offence of general application, can be and has been used in these types of cases, hence the exclusion of parents from the application of the mandatory minimum penalty.
I hope that gives you some background on the offences and the nature of the amendment.