Canada introduces nuclear terrorism law

By Christine Duhaime | March 27th, 2012

Canada has introduced anti-nuclear terrorism legislation to fully implement the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material and the International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism. Australia enacted similar legislation a month ago.

Bill S-9 – the Nuclear Terrorism Act, amends the Criminal Code as follows:

  • it creates an offence of possessing or trafficking nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or committing an act against a nuclear facility or its operations with the intent to cause death, serious bodily harm or substantial damage to property or the environment. On conviction, the offence carries a term of life imprisonment;
  • it creates an offence for using or altering nuclear or radioactive material or a nuclear or radioactive device, or committing an act against a nuclear facility or its operations with the intent to compel a person, a government or a domestic or international organization to do, or refrain from doing, anything (also, on conviction, a term of life imprisonment);
  • it creates an offence for the commission of an indictable offence for the purpose of obtaining nuclear or radioactive material or device, or to obtain access or control of a nuclear facility and is intended to criminalize, for example, theft of nuclear material or the use of violence to obtain such material;
  • it creates a specific offence of threatening to commit any of the offences above;
  • it gives courts in Canada extraterritorial jurisdiction to try these offences in situations where, for example, the offence is committed outside Canada by a Canadian or when the person who commits the act or omission outside Canada is present in Canada (similar to the extraterritorial jurisdiction that exists in relation to terrorism offences); and
  • it gives the Attorney General of Canada concurrent prosecutorial authority over nuclear terrorism offences, in the same way the AG assumes such authority over terrorism offences, in lieu of the provinces and territories.
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