Canada proposes new law to punish moon crimes

A recent proposed update to the Canada’s Criminal Code will extend the Mounties’ jurisdiction to the moon. As CBC reports:

In the Budget Implementation Act, under the subhead Lunar Gateway — Canadian crew members, the amendment reads:

“A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offense is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada.”

That, according to the amendment, includes any act or omission committed on the [NASA-bakced orbiting space platform] Lunar Gateway, while being transported to or from the Lunar Gateway, or on the surface of the moon.

To be fair, there have only been 14 Canadian astronauts ever, period. But this law would have a potential impact beyond those 14 people, and their future country-brethren — it would also extend to citizens of other countries who commit crimes against Canadians, as Phys.org notes:

This would include crimes en route to or on the Lunar Gateway station currently in the works to orbit the moon, and also “on the surface of the moon,” the document states.

Foreign astronauts who “threaten the life or security of a Canadian crew member” on a Canadian-supported space mission could also be prosecuted, according to the ways and means motion.

The prospect that a nation-state could extend its legal jurisdiction to the bodies of any of its citizens even when they’re literally not on the planet is deeply concerning, to say the least (though could certainly make for some fascinating sci-fi legal drama). The news comes as the Canadian space program is in the process of developing a robot arm for the Lunar Gateway, which is set to launch in May 2024.

At press time, Chairface Chippendale could not be reached for comment.

Canada wants to prosecute moon crimes [Rafi Schwartz / MIC]

Crimes on the moon could soon be added to Canada’s Criminal Code [Mark Gollom / CBC]

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