Reading about the sentencing in Canada  of Kenneth Klassen to eleven years’ imprisonment for having sexually exploited underage girls in Columbia and Cambodia one is reminded of the importance of knowing that ignorance of the criminal law is never a defence unless the accused has been mislead by a government official.

It would be interesting to see how many criminal lawyers in Montreal, let alone members of the public, are aware of the 1997 amendment to the Criminal Code which allows Canadian citizens and residents to be prosecuted in Canada for sexual offences against children committed entirely in a foreign country.  

The general rule has always been that some part of the prohibited act must have taken place within Canada in order for there to be jurisdiction to prosecute the crime here. The few exceptions historically included offences essentially akin to terrorism and piracy, whether on the seas or in the air. It can only be hoped other nations have similar laws designed to protect children from pedophile tourists.