Daphne Bramham’s Blog notes Day 4 Closing on the Beyond Borders Closing Submissions

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REVISED Closing for Beyond Borders

Start of Daphne’s blog notes:

Religious freedom doesn’t protect polygamy . . . or murder

Canada’s Constitution guarantees religious freedom. But no rights are unlimited as lawyer David Matas explained Thursday in B.C. Supreme Court where Chief Justice Robert Bauman is is hearing closing arguments in a constitutional reference case which asks whether the polygamy prohibition is valid.

There’s no constitutional protection for someone who claims that killing was done out of religious belief,” said Matas, the lawyer for Beyond Borders, a non-governmental organization that works to combat sexual exploitation and trafficking of women and children. “The reason there is no violation of freedom of religion as a defense to murder is that human rights have to be considered as a whole. One cannot assess whether human rights are violated by looking at ony one human right in isolation.”

In his closing argument, Matas went on to say: “The ultimate test for human rights is the whole of the human rights package, the worth and dignity of the whole human being. Each human right captures one aspect of that package. But it is the whole that matters, not just the component parts.”

When it comes to murder, Matas said that killing violates the right to life far more than prosecution for murder violates the right to freedom of religion. And when it comes to polygamy, defenders don’t claim a right to child sexual abuse. But Matas said they do claim a right to a community that facilitates the crime of child sexual abuse and makes it harder to detect and report. But children have a right to security and violating that right “has to weigh more heavily in the balance than the right of freedom of expression or religion of adults manifested by them living in polygamous communities.”

He argued that maintaining a prohibition on polygamy is both a protective measure and a form of prevention.

For more on the closing arguments as well as background on Bountiful, click here.

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