Sunday, October 25, 2009

Tell Me It Isn't So

A propos of this post by Dr. Dawg, it looks like we won't be pursuing charges against a Minnesota nurse who counselled a Carleton University student into killing herself.

Here's how the lead investigator, Staff-Sgt. Uday Jaswal, explains the decision:
“We weren’t satisfied that a criminal offence had taken place,” Jaswal told Chevalier in a tense conversation in her Brampton home.
“Obviously Nadia was in conversation with someone who is quite sick,” Jaswal is heard saying on Chevalier’s recording.
“It’s a very disturbing conversation. But given the totality of what had happened, given the totality of the evidence that we had seen in terms of her own pursuit, in terms of going to a variety of sites, looking at suicide methods, we couldn’t establish any sort of cause and effect between that conversation and her suicide.
“I wouldn’t have been comfortable going ahead with criminal charges, even if we had potentially a person that was identified,” he continued.

However, as noted in the article in The Ottawa Citizen, and by one of Dr. Dawg's commenters:
Section 241 of the Canadian Criminal Code states anyone who “counsels a person to commit suicide, or aids and abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to” as much as 14 years in jail. The key terms — counselling and abetting — both mean giving some form of encouragement.

Dr. Dawg brings up the question of whether or not cajoling someone into suicide should be protected by freedom of speech.  Not being a legal scholar, I couldn't say definitively, but I'd be inclined to think it is, sadly (though I'm open to being persuaded otherwise).  Nonetheless, I wouldn't lose a lot of sleep over such an infringement on freedom of speech.

But all that is immaterial right now.  We have a law on the books, and it is up to the cops to enforce the law (putting aside any potential issues of jurisdiction).  I hope the Ottawa Police will realize their error and begin the process of justice for a troubled young student.

No comments:

Post a Comment