Pubdate: Sat, 07 Mar 2009
Source: Edmonton Journal (CN AB)
Copyright: 2009 The Edmonton Journal
Author: Bruce Symington


Re: "Making sure that crime doesn't pay; But in seizing the proceeds of
crime, province
risks trampling civil liberties," by Paula Simons, March 3.

Asset forfeiture is a recognized method of dealing with illegal gains;
the criminal loses his property, so does not profit from crime. That
is appropriate.

This new law giving the state the right to seize goods from people who
have not been found criminal goes too far.

Every law is pushed past the ultimate extreme by the police and
prosecutors. That is human nature. By giving them a weapon, we are
inviting them to use it. Google the subject and you will find hundreds
of thefts by police disguised as asset forfeiture in the U.S.

When we allow the authorities to seize people's property without proof
of a crime, we are inviting abuse. Imagine if your goods were seized,
your bank accounts frozen, and nonsensical charges laid; how would you
retain a lawyer with no money? How would you fight trumped-up charges?

You would be guilty until proven innocent, and the police will have
removed your ability to get help to prove your innocence. This is wrong.

Reassurances by Justice Minister Alison Redford that these seizures
will be "fair, because judges will ultimately decide what can be
seized and sold," ring hollow. When a mistake is made and an innocent
person's assets are seized and sold, it's too late to just say "Oops."

Bruce Symington

Medicine Hat
- ---
MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin