2 min

Law bans a teen from suing her tormentors

Ontario’s Act To Rescue Children Trapped In The Misery Of Prostitution And Other Forms Of Sexual Exploitation will supposedly protect those under 18.

The proposed law, currently with the legislature’s standing committee on justice and social policy, authorizes the apprehension and forced detention for up to 30 days of any youth who seems to be “a child who is sexually exploited for commercial purposes or is at risk of sexual exploitation for commercial purposes.”

Police, or Children’s Aid Society workers, can conclude that she (it is usually she who is “rescued” in this way) is at risk, if it is reasonable to believe that any of the following have taken place or will take place:

• The child engages in prostitution or attempts to engage in prostitution

• The child engages in any sexually explicit activity in an adult entertainment facility or in a massage parlor

• The child is in a common bawdy house

• The child acts as an escort for the monetary gain of any person

• The child engages in communications of a sexual nature for the monetary gain of any person

• The child is used in making sexually explicit or pornographic images

• The child engages in any other activity of a sexual nature for the

monetary gain of any person.

Bill 86 means that if police believe that a child will even attempt to engage in prostitution at some point in the future, they can arrest and detain her for up to 30 days. They can use force to enter residences to apprehend children believed to be at risk of exploitation.

Once in custody, the young victim may then be detained in a “place of safety” for up to 30 days. Since the bill authorizes the use of locked facilities, that place of safety could quite literally be a jail, as the section of adult jails reserved for young offenders are locked facilities.

The legislation provides two opportunities to challenge detention. Within 24 hours, the child will be given a notice with information about her arrest and the phone number of a legal aid office, ostensibly to prepare for an initial hearing (which may be over the telephone) “before” a justice of the peace.

At this first hearing, a decision is made whether to release her or to hold her for a five-day assessment. After the five days, a more formal hearing is held to decide to hold her for the rest of the 30 days.

If she escapes or runs away, she can be re-arrested without a warrant, and the 30 day clock will start over, with no credit for the time already served. There is no limit on the number of times the same child can be apprehended. One girl in Alberta was apprehended 17 times within the first nine months of Alberta’s equivalent legislation.

Finally, she cannot bring a lawsuit against anyone for her detention, even if it was not justified, if they were acting in “good faith.”