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Halt the Extradition of Canadian Citizen and Abuse Survivor "MM," Who Faces 33 Years in U.S. Prison for Protecting Her Children

This petition had 1,253 supporters

Please halt the extradition of MM, a Canadian-born mother of three Canadian children and survivor of male violence whose only “crime” was in choosing to live and to protect herself and her children from physical, psychological, and emotional abuse. (MM's real name and the names of her children cannot be revealed).

We believe that women and children escaping violence should not be punished for the sometimes difficult choices they are forced to make in order to find safety.  It shocks our conscience that MM faces a potential 33 years in prison in the U.S. for escaping abuse, despite the fact that the first Canadian court to address this case declared unreservedly that the foundation of the extradition –  the ex-husband’s “suspicions” that MM had taken the kids – was “so defective and unreliable that it is not worthy of consideration.”

MM is charged with child abduction even though, as a provincial court has found, “We are in the presence of children running away from an abusive father without the knowledge or assistance of their mother, living in an abandoned home and finally begging their mother to take them away, so that their father couldn’t hurt them again.”

Section 285 of the Canadian Criminal Code (which provides a defence for those charged with “abduction in contravention of custody order”) states that no one shall be found guilty of an offence if the act of receiving or harbouring a young person was “necessary to protect the young person from imminent harm or if the person charged with the offence was escaping from danger of imminent harm.” Such a defence, however, is not available to MM in the U.S. jurisdiction that seeks her extradition.

As a provincial court judge concluded, MM “could not be found guilty in Canada…if her intent was to protect the children from danger of imminent harm at the hands of their father and this, even if she did have the specific intent of depriving [him] of possession of the children as well.” No jury reasonably instructed in Canada would convict her, the judge concluded in dismissing the case.

 Unfortunately, Canada's Justice Dept. appealed this decision and won based on very narrow technical grounds related to the Extradition Act. Thus, a cloud of fear and anxiety continues to hang over MM and her three children, who could be separated any day. While the Supreme Court is now considering this case, it is fully within your power to change your mind and declare that surrendering MM to the U.S. would, in the words of Canada’s extradition law, be “unjust or oppressive having regard to all the relevant circumstances.”

As a matter of fundamental justice, criminal liability cannot be imposed on someone when realistically he or she had no choice but to commit the otherwise “wrongful” act. We agree with a lawyer who argued at the Supreme Court that “surrender to a legal system which does not provide for a defence that is required by the principles of fundamental justice would be unjust and oppressive. It would violate the principles of fundamental justice. It would shock the conscience and be simply unacceptable. It would, in short, not be lawful under Canadian law.”

The extradition of MM to the United States shocks our conscience and should be stopped immediately.

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