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Media Advisory: BCCLA to Question Witnesses on Civil Asset Forfeiture at Cullen Commission

WHAT: BCCLA at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in BC hearings on civil asset forfeiture

WHEN: December 14-18, 2020 9:30 am – 1:30 pm PST (except December 17th, 2020, when the hearings will run from 4:00 pm – 8:00 pm PST)

WHERE: Hearings will take place via videoconferencing.  A livestream of the hearings will be available here.

Vancouver, BC – Coast Salish Territories – Lawyers from the BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) will question witnesses on civil asset forfeiture at the Cullen Commission of Inquiry into Money Laundering in BC.

Megan Tweedie, BCCLA Senior Counsel, states: “The civil forfeiture regime allows the government to take property from individuals who have not been charged or convicted of a crime. Without proper checks and balances, flawed laws empower governments and police forces to use civil forfeiture laws to benefit their bottom lines, rather than to combat crime. For many years, the BCCLA has spoken out about the barriers to representation faced by those targeted by civil forfeiture orders.”

Jessica Magonet, BCCLA Staff Counsel, states: “A report commissioned by the government which is being considered by the Commission recommends the adoption of Unexplained Wealth Orders in BC, which are even more extreme than civil forfeiture. Unexplained wealth orders raise profound civil liberties implications, including the erosion of privacy rights, undermining the presumption of innocence, and subverting the rights that shield people from unreasonable search and seizure.”

On December 14, the Commission will hear evidence from Jeffrey Simser, co-author of Civil Asset Forfeiture in Canada. From December 15-17, the Commission will hear evidence about civil forfeiture regimes in other jurisdictions. On December 18, the Commission will hear evidence from Phil Tawtel, Executive Director of the British Columbia Civil Forfeiture Office.

The BCCLA is represented at the Cullen Commission by BCCLA lawyers Megan Tweedie and Jessica Magonet.

The BCCLA’s written opening statement delivered to the Commission in February 2020 is available here.

Read the Commissions Interim Report here.

Media Contacts

  • Jessica Magonet, BCCLA Staff Counsel, at [email protected] or 604-359-2415  (available for comment in English or French)