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Canada justice minister defends constitutionality of bill reversing burden of proof

[JURIST] Canadian Justice Minister Vic Toews [official profile] has defended a new crime bill [C-27 text] introduced by the country's Conservative Party government which could require repeat criminal offenders to convince courts that they are no longer dangerous instead of requiring Crown prosecutors to establish a continuing threat. Toews resisted criticism calling the proposed law unconstitutional, saying the presumption of innocence only applies prior to conviction and pointing out that the bill only applies to individuals who have already been convicted. The bill changes the burden of proof for offenders who have committed violent and sexual crimes for the third time. If they are not able to convince the judge that they are no longer dangerous, they will be given an indeterminate jail sentence with no chance of parole for seven years. CTV has more.

Toews introduced [press release] the bill in the Canadian House of Commons [official website] Tuesday as an amendment to Canada's current Criminal Code [text]. Toews said the measure was a deterrent against future criminal activity and had been reviewed very carefully. Critics of the bill say it will likely face challenges under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms [text]. CBC has more.

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