News & Events
Honour killings to voting rights: Hot-button issues coming up at Supreme Court
From a Globe and Mail article: An alleged honour killing in India will be at the centre of the Supreme Court of Canada's winter session of hearings, which begins Wednesday. It is a session with several high-profile cases, including two in which the importance of stopping violence against women goes up against competing principles – the right to a fair trial, and to be protected from torture or neglect in foreign prisons.
Honour killing and extradition to a foreign jail, March 20
It's a Romeo and Juliet story, highlighting hot-button issues of immigration and values in the air in Europe, the United States and Canada.
Jaswinder Kaur Sidhu, 24, who lived in Maple Ridge, B.C, married a man beneath her caste and fled to a tiny village in India to be with him. Travelling by motor scooter, they were waylaid on the road by a group of assassins in a car. Ms. Sidhu died when they cut her throat; her husband was beaten. In Attorney-General of Canada on behalf of the Republic of India v Surjit Singh Badesha, et al., India is trying to extradite her mother, Malkit Kaur Sidhu, and uncle, Surjit Badesha. (They were among 13 charged in her death. Three were convicted of murder and sentenced to life in prison.) It pits the need to protect society against brutal murders against the need to protect the basic rights of accused people once they are out of Canada’s control.
The pair argued in B.C. courts that India couldn't be trusted to give them a fair trial, not to torture them in its jails and not to execute them if they were found guilty. Canada received diplomatic assurances from India that the mother and uncle would not be tortured or executed and that Canadian consular officials would have unrestricted access to them in jail and during court proceedings. The trial judge said there was enough evidence to send them to India for trial, but the B.C. Court of Appeal, in a 2-1 ruling, rejected India's assurances that they would be treated properly in jail, while accepting the country’s other assurances.
The Attorney-General of Canada said in a legal filing the appeal court had taken "the unprecedented step of reviewing and condemning" the jails of an extradition treaty partner, not for one prison or region "but for the Republic of India as a whole."