Canada Bans the Mask: Unlawful Protesters Risk 10 Years in Prison
Posted on Jun 20, 2013
Masked protesters have become a common sight around the globe and Canada is so concerned about the phenomenon that parliament passed a bill that could, under certain circumstances, put disguised men and women away for a very long time.
The new law claims to target rioters, but Canada already punishes criminals for disguising themselves. Protesters have reasons beyond basic privacy to wear masks. Face coverings can be expressions of solidarity, for example. Demonstrators affiliated with Anonymous popularized the use of masks based on the image of Guy Fawkes created for the film “V for Vendetta.” Also, people who fear persecution by their government may be naturally inclined to conceal their identities without any intention to commit a crime.
Nonetheless, don’t try it north of the border.
There are some exceptions, as the CBC explains below, but it seems to put the onus on the protester to muster a defense.
The bill creates a new Criminal Code offence that makes it illegal to wear a mask or otherwise conceal your identity during a riot or unlawful assembly. Exceptions can be made if someone can prove they have a “lawful excuse” for covering their face such as religious or medical reasons.
The bill originally proposed a penalty of up to five years, but the House of Commons justice committee amended it and doubled the penalty to up to 10 years in prison for committing the offence.
—Posted by Peter Z. Scheer.
Photo by Alexis Gravel (CC-BY-ND)