Charter arguments in a child abduction case have been postponed while lawyers try to figure out the best way to hear evidence from authorities in Central America.
Former Lethbridge lawyer Bill Wister was scheduled Tuesday in Lethbridge provincial court to show how his client’s Charter rights had been breached when she was forced from Belize last year and arrested for child abduction. However, the hearing was adjourned after the judge was told more time is needed to determine whether Belize officials can testify, and whether they can do it by closed-circuit TV.
Tony Bell with Specialized Prosecutions told court Tuesday that Canada does not have an agreement with Belize under MLAT, the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, which is an agreement between two or more countries for gathering and exchanging information to enforce public or criminal laws.
Bell explained, however, that since the two countries are under the British Commonwealth, there are agreements in place to assist each other, but just how that can be done in this case remains unclear.
Wister filed a Charter notice last month alleging federal government officials had no right to have his client arrested and extradited from Belize in 2017, even though she was wanted on a Canada warrant for child abduction.
Wister maintains Canadian officials denied the woman fundamental justice under Article 9 of the Declaration of Human Rights, which states “no one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.”
On Jan. 6, 2014 the boy’s father told police his ex-wife had taken their son and left the country. The following month she was charged with child abduction and a warrant was issued for her arrest.
Police tracked the woman and child to Mexico, Guatemala and various parts of Belize, and the mother was the subject of various international Interpol alerts.
Last July Lethbridge police learned Belize authorities found the pair in the town of San Ignacio in the Cayo District and took them into custody. The mother was jailed and fined for failing to produce valid immigration documents, and the four-year-old boy was placed in the care of Belize Human Services.
In August the mother was deported to the U.S., where she was arrested after landing in Houston, Tex., then returned to Canada later that night. She was taken into custody by Lethbridge police officers at the Calgary International Airport and charged with child abduction, then released from custody Aug. 23 following a bail hearing in Lethbridge.
The matter returns to court June 11 for a progress report, and ostensibly to find a new date to hear Charter arguments.
Source: Delon Shurtz, Lethbridge Herald.
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