Supreme Court


Charter of Rights

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION
Terrorism provisions directed at violence and threats of violence

Accused charged with seven terrorism-related offences. Accused alleged to have designed and built remote detonator in association with terrorists in United Kingdom and Afghanistan. Trial judge held that definition of terrorism in Criminal Code violated s. 2 of Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms by requiring Crown to prove that impugned conduct was committed for political, religious, or ideological purpose. Trial judge held that this would have chilling effect on those who shared beliefs but not methods with accused terrorists. As remedy trial judge severed motive clause from definition of terrorism. Accused argued unsuccessfully at trial that his acts were intended to take part in legitimate armed conflict in Afghanistan and fell within armed conflict exception in definition of terrorist activity. Court of appeal dismissed accused’s appeal and found that trial judge erred in finding motive clause unconstitutional. Accused’s appeal dismissed. Terrorism offences were not overbroad. Terrorism provisions in Criminal Code were directed at violence and threats of violence which are not protected expression under s. 2. No evidence that provisions would create chilling effect. No evidentiary foundation to argument that accused’s acts related to armed conflict and were consistent with international law.

R. v. Khawaja (Dec. 14, 2012, S.C.C., McLachlin C.J.C., LeBel, Fish, Abella, Rothstein, Cromwell and Karakatsanis JJ., File No. 34103) Decision at 273 C.C.C. (3d) 415, 97 W.C.B. (2d) 97 was affirmed. 104 W.C.B. (2d) 900.

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