Taiwan. The media release states, “Foreign nationals from such jurisdictions convicted in Canada would be able to serve their sentences in their home countries”.
The wording of clause 30 is also very interesting. Subclause 30(1) states:
A Canadian offender shall benefit from any compassionate measures--including a cancellation of their conviction or shortening of their sentence--taken by a foreign entity after the transfer.
On the surface, this portion of the act would seem to suggest that if an offender found guilty of murder in another country was transferred and then that country reviewed the case and found the offender not guilty, he or she would be notified and released. However, closer examination of the wording reveals that this clause under “Compassionate Measures” really allows the Canadian government to take action on compassionate grounds after the prisoner has been returned, the key phrase in this subclause being “any compassionate measures”.
Without a clear definition of the clause the interpretation is left open to those who would determine the sentence duration of the criminal. If the intent of this portion of the bill was to make sure an offender transferred to his or her home country was kept abreast of any reduction of their sentence in the place where the crime occurred, the clause would have read: A Canadian offender shall benefit from any foreign compassionate measures. It is a subtle difference in wording, but one which clearly defines the purpose of the clause.
When dealing with foreign entities I believe we need to be clear and this portion of the bill needs to be re-examined. If what we are saying is that we are going to determine who should or should not be punished or if we are going to be determining the duration of a sentence, regardless of what the country in which the crime was committed has determined, then we need to be up front. We should also define clearly what “compassionate measures” means. Do we include the wishes of the family? Do we consider the circumstances in which the prisoner has served his or her time?
Once again I believe it is important to have measures in place to allow us to deal with this situation, namely, the transfer of prisoners from one country to another, but I also believe we need to act in the best interests of Canadians. While we support the legislation in principle, we need to be cognizant of the fact that regardless of what the government passes this type of legislation only works if we have reciprocal agreements.