@*@ Header
On Feb. 23, 2016, an evidence technician checks items seized under civil forfeiture law in the western city of Vancouver. They are about to be sold at auction.

On Feb. 23, 2016, an evidence technician checks items seized under civil forfeiture law in the western city of Vancouver. They are about to be sold at auction.
Photo Credit: Amanda Cowan/The Columbian via AP

Some ‘appalling injustices’ in property seizures

FacebookTwitterGoogle+PinterestWeChatEmailPrintPartager

Eight out of ten Canadian provinces have civil forfeiture laws that allow police to seize property used to commit crimes or property that was acquired through criminal activity. But a new report says these laws have become “an abuse of power that treats innocent property owners worse than criminals.”

Homes seized from innocent property owners

The report cites an on-going example where a couple are about to lose two properties they own and rented to people now suspected of breaking drug laws. They themselves have never been charged nor are they suspected of any crime.

“What I find especially outrageous, as if that weren’t bad enough…is that a judge has already ordered those properties sold before the trial (of the tenants) has even taken place, which really surprised me,” says Marni Soupcoff, executive director of the Canadian Constitution Foundation, a charity that defends Canadians’ charter rights and freedoms.

Listen
Marni Soupcoff says police should not use civil forfeiture to “get” people when they cannot prove they have committed a crime.
Marni Soupcoff says police should not use civil forfeiture to “get” people when they cannot prove they have committed a crime.

‘A lower standard of proof’ required

In Canada’s criminal law, there is the presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty. But because the properties are seized under civil law, there is not the same protection and property owners must spend a fortune in lawyers’ fees to try to defend themselves.

“So if the police have someone they think has done a bad thing and they can’t prove it in court—they just don’t have enough evidence or maybe they did a search and it was an illegal search and they can’t go to court with it—they can use civil forfeiture law as kind of a second chance with a lower standard of proof to get the person’s property. And that just seems wrong. There shouldn’t be a do-over option for the police.”

Police must prove crimes, says report

Soupcoff says police should only be able to confiscate property of people who they can prove committed a crime. In addition, she says, police should have to show where the money or proceeds of the seizures went. In some provinces, they are supposed to help the victims of crime, but often they go to fund the programs, says Soupcoff.

The Canadian Constitution Foundation has compiled a report detailing what it calls a serious and growing problem with civil forfeiture in hopes of raising awareness and pressuring governments to end the abuses.

Tagged with: , , , ,
Posted in Society

Do you want to report an error or a typo? Click here!

@*@ Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

 characters available

Note: By submitting your comments, you acknowledge that Radio Canada International has the right to reproduce, broadcast and publicize those comments or any part thereof in any manner whatsoever. Radio Canada International does not endorse any of the views posted. Your comments will be pre-moderated and published if they meet netiquette guidelines.

Netiquette »

When you express your personal opinion in an online forum, you must be as courteous as if you were speaking with someone face-to-face. Insults and personal attacks will not be tolerated. To disagree with an opinion, an idea or an event is one thing, but to show disrespect for other people is quite another. Great minds don’t always think alike—and that’s precisely what makes online dialogue so interesting and valuable.

Netiquette is the set of rules of conduct governing how you should behave when communicating via the Internet. Before you post a message to a blog or forum, it’s important to read and understand these rules. Otherwise, you may be banned from posting.

  1. RCInet.ca’s online forums are not anonymous. Users must register, and give their full name and place of residence, which are displayed alongside each of their comments. RCInet.ca reserves the right not to publish comments if there is any doubt as to the identity of their author.
  2. Assuming the identity of another person with intent to mislead or cause harm is a serious infraction that may result in the offender being banned.
  3. RCInet.ca’s online forums are open to everyone, without regard to age, ethnic origin, religion, gender or sexual orientation.
  4. Comments that are defamatory, hateful, racist, xenophobic, sexist, or that disparage an ethnic origin, religious affiliation or age group will not be published.
  5. In online speak, writing in ALL CAPS is considered yelling, and may be interpreted as aggressive behaviour, which is unpleasant for the people reading. Any message containing one or more words in all caps (except for initialisms and acronyms) will be rejected, as will any message containing one or more words in bold, italic or underlined characters.
  6. Use of vulgar, obscene or objectionable language is prohibited. Forums are public places and your comments could offend some users. People who use inappropriate language will be banned.
  7. Mutual respect is essential among users. Insulting, threatening or harassing another user is prohibited. You can express your disagreement with an idea without attacking anyone.
  8. Exchanging arguments and opposing views is a key component of healthy debate, but it should not turn into a dialogue or private discussion between two users who address each other without regard for the other participants. Messages of this type will not be posted.
  9. Radio Canada International publishes contents in five languages. The language used in the forums has to be the same as the contents we publish. The usage of other languages, with the exception of some words, is forbidden. Messages that are off-topic will not be published.
  10. Making repetitive posts disrupts the flow of discussions and will not be tolerated.
  11. Adding images or any other type of file to comments is forbidden. Including hyperlinks to other websites is allowed, as long as they comply with netiquette. Radio Canada International  is in no way responsible for the content of such sites, however.
  12. Copying and pasting text written by someone else, even if you credit the author, is unacceptable if that text makes up the majority of your comment.
  13. Posting any type of advertising or call to action, in any form, to Radio Canada International  forums is prohibited.
  14. All comments and other types of content are moderated before publication. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to refuse any comment for publication.
  15. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to close a forum at any time, without notice.
  16. Radio Canada International  reserves the right to amend this code of conduct (netiquette) at any time, without notice.
  17. By participating in its online forums, you allow Radio Canada International to publish your comments on the web for an indefinite time. This also implies that these messages will be indexed by Internet search engines.
  18. Radio Canada International has no obligation to remove your messages from the web if one day you request it. We invite you to carefully consider your comments and the consequences of their posting.

*

3 comments on “Some ‘appalling injustices’ in property seizures
  1. Chuffly says:

    Further proof that we are peasants with no real rights.

  2. Carmen says:

    Cars run over and k!ll people everyday!

  3. Jim Cowan says:

    So can we expect to hear soon of those of the upper 1% who have avoided paying their taxes will soon forfeit their real-estate holdings ?
    Didn’t think so !