Canada Introduces Law To Punish Crimes Committed on the Moon

Andrei Tapalaga
Laws on the moon and outer space are becoming a hot topicNicolas Thomas/Unsplash

With so many plans and ventures to be introduced outside of Earth such as the first international space hotel which is to be released in 2025, someone had to think about some laws to put in place. It does not matter if humans are on Earth or outside, they are still humans prone to do something unlawful. 

The Canadian government is working on a piece of legislation that would allow legal actions to be taken against crimes committed outside of Earth, to be more specific on the moon. The budget bill containing the proposed space law had passed its first reading on April 29 in the Canadian House of Commons, similar to the U.S. House of Representatives. 

Bill C-19 Division 18, under a heading called “Civil Lunar Gateway Agreement Implementation Act.” as it has been named by the House of Commons outlines the following: “A Canadian crew member who, during a space flight, commits an act or omission outside Canada that if committed in Canada would constitute an indictable offense is deemed to have committed that act or omission in Canada.”

As far as the power of the Canadian government goes, the law will only apply to Canadian astronauts which are expected to be on their best behavior whilst outside of Earth’s atmosphere. 

The bill is very specific when it comes to where exactly the laws apply: “on, or in relation to, a flight element of the Lunar Gateway; on any means of transportation to or from the lunar gateway; or on the surface of the moon.”

Canada seems to be doing a good job at expanding its space access and responsibilities. This initiative of introducing laws that protect, but at the same time keep Canadian astronauts responsible for their actions within space has brought a new set of ethical issues about space travel. 

The first space law that has been signed by 107 countries is the 1967 Outer Space treaty. This oversees that every nation that is part of the treaty accepts to follow certain rules when going out into space. Some of the more specific points of this treaty are: 

  • Space exploration shall benefit all countries.
  • Space exploration should be without discrimination. 
  • Space exploration should ensure free access to planets and other celestial bodies. 

Similar bills have been proposed in the U.S. but have not been passed as at the time there weren’t as many plans to expand the horizon of humankind into space as there are now. Many investors apart from Elon Musk are looking towards creating a hospitality industry out of space for the multi-millionaires and billionaires of the world. 

Elon Musk as the CEO of SpaceX is trying to make space travel affordable for the average person. Space and the close planets within our solar system are something in which humanity will eventually expand. 

Professor Ram S. Jakhu of McGill University has talked about the future of law beyond our planet, stating that laws will have to be created for every eventually, not like the laws on Earth have been created throughout history, as things had occurred. 

“There will need to be a set of laws and governance in place for all eventualities in space as there is on Earth, instead of the case-by-case nature that currently addresses issues and problems as they arise.” (Quote by Professor Ram S. Jakhu)

There are high chances of the bill being approved by the Canadian government as it shows their initiative to the future of space to the rest of the world.

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