This spring saw the publication of the updated BC Crown Counsel Prosecution Guidelines including the Sex 2 policy, which indicates how people living with HIV may be charged in cases of non-disclosure of HIV. On May 31st, we posted a blog by PAN’s Executive Director, J. Evin Jones, BC’s New Prosecutorial Guidelines on HIV Non-Disclosure Murky and Troublesome. In it she described collective “concerns that the policy is too vague and that it does not provide enough guidance – particularly given (the) lack of Risk of sexual transmission of HIV from a person living with HIV who has an undetectable viral load consensus statement mention.”
PAN sent a letter to BC’s Attorney General, David Eby on June 25, 2018. It reads, in part,
The failure of the BC Prosecution Service to adopt an evidence-based approach is of great concern. We therefore call upon you in your role as Attorney General, to work to ensure that BC prosecutors do not prosecute people in those circumstances that Justice Canada has concluded do not warrant prosecution.
PAN received a letter of response July 13, 2018. It reads, in part,
I would like to take this opportunity to clarify that it is not my role to become involved in the day-to-day operations of the BCPS [BC Prosecution Service]. The BCPS manages the prosecution function on behalf of the Attorney General. British Columbia is very different from most other jurisdictions in Canada. In British Columbia it is Crown Counsel, not the police, who decide whether criminal charges should be approved.
The Prosecution Service readily acknowledges the understandable concerns expressed about stigmatization associated with an HIV-specific offence. BCPS policies are reviewed on a regular and ongoing basis to ensure they accurately reflect developments in Canadian criminal law, respond appropriately to emerging trends or community needs—including scientific developments—and reasonably balance individual rights with societal interests..
PAN remains deeply troubled about how the Sex 2 policy may be applied, and will continue to work with provincial and national partners on this advocacy issue.
Questions? Feedback? Get in touch!
Jennifer (Evin) Jones, Executive Director, [email protected]