An amendment to Canada’s Outer Space Act allowing crimes committed on the Moon to be prosecuted was passed in Canada’s House of Commons in late April, Euronews reported on Thursday.
Members of Canada’s House of Commons, or lower house of parliament, voted 181 to 144 in favor of the amendment to the Space Act on April 29, Agence France-Presse reported (AFP). ) on May 5. The legislation would extend Canada’s criminal jurisdiction to outer space.
“The new law being considered by parliamentarians essentially extends Canadian law to space, which means that anything that would be illegal in Canada will become illegal on board spacecraft traveling to the Lunar Gateway, on the Gateway itself and on the surface of the Moon”, Euronews observed on May 5.
The Lunar Gateway is a planned space outpost that would orbit the Moon starting in 2024, according to the US federal government’s National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).
Canada’s House of Commons introduced its new amendment to the Space Act on April 29 in a 2022 federal budget bill under the subtitle “Lunar Gateway,” which read: “A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada which, if committed in Canada, would constitute an indictable offence, is deemed to have committed such act or omission in Canada.
“This would include crimes en route to or on the Lunar Gateway station currently being prepared to orbit the Moon, and also ‘on the surface of the Moon,’ the document states,” according to AFP.
“Foreign astronauts who ‘threaten the life or safety of a Canadian crew member’ while on a Canadian-backed space mission could also be prosecuted, under the ways and means motion,” AFP reported. .
The nations that launched the International Space Station (ISS) in 1998 signed an agreement with NASA that “allows space station partner states to extend their national jurisdiction into space,” according to the European Space Agency.
The Government of Canada is a minority partner in the ISS. Canada was also one of more than 100 countries to ratify a United Nations outer space treaty in 1967. The pact specified that the Moon and other major celestial objects were to be used for “exclusive purposes peaceful,” adding that no nation on Earth could claim outer space.
Canada’s Parliament may have passed its new amendment to the Space Act late last month in anticipation that Ottawa may soon step up its involvement in international space projects.
“The number and types of people in space is rapidly accelerating,” science news website Space.com observed on May 4. adding more options for spaceflight beyond the professional astronauts who dominated for six decades.