International Transfer of Offenders Act

The International Transfer of Offenders Act (French: Loi sur le transfèrement international des délinquants) is Canadian federal legislation. Passed in 2004, it allows Canadians who had been convicted of a crime in another nation to apply to serve their sentence, or a portion thereof, in a Canadian prison.[1] The Act gives the Minister of Public Safety the authority to approve or decline prisoners' applications for transfer.[2]

The Act was passed shortly before Conservative Stephen Harper was elected Prime Minister of Canada in 2005.[2] Legal journalists and legal scholars criticized the Harper government for arbitrarily declining to approve transfers without adequate reasons. According to The Globe and Mail on January 19, 2012, Justice Robert Barnes ruled that Vic Toews had failed to provide adequate reasons when he declined to approve the transfer of Richard Goulet. Barnes called decisions like this "pro forma" decisions, which were usually approved because it was in Canada's interest to know when felons were scheduled for release, and because it was in Canada's interest to enrol prisoners in the Canadian parole system, so their transition from prison could be monitored. Barnes's ruling noted twelve other cases where Toews and his predecessors had declined to approve prisoner transfers without supplying an adequate explanation.

In 2009 the Canadian Civil Liberties Association criticized amendments the Conservatives were proposing to the law—amendments that relaxed the obligations the Minister of Public Safety had to explain his or her decisions.[3]


  1. ^ "Safe Streets and Communities Act: Adding Criteria for the International Transfer of Canadian Offenders Back to Canada" (PDF). Government of Canada. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-09-24. Retrieved 2013-08-14. The ITOA, which came into force on October 29, 2004, is a modernization of the Transfer of Offenders Act, which was proclaimed in 1978. The legislated purpose of the Act is "to contribute to the administration of justice and the rehabilitation of offenders and their reintegration into the community by enabling offenders to serve their sentences in the country of which they are citizens or nationals." The Public Safety Minister is responsible for the administration of the Act.
  2. ^ a b Tu Thang Ha (2012-01-21). "Court scolds Harper ministers over handling of international prison transfers". The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2013-08-14. Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and his two Conservative predecessors have been criticized in a recent Federal Court decision for repeatedly failing to provide adequate reasons when refusing to let Canadians jailed abroad be transferred to a prison in Canada.
  3. ^ "Benign amendments or undermining of the rule of law? December 4th, 2009". Canadian Civil Liberties Association. 2009-12-04. Archived from the original on 2013-08-14.