As the next phase of AAN!’s ongoing Think Twice campaign, today we sent letters to the Ontario Crown Prosecutors who have brought forward HIV non-disclosure prosecutions, and to their bosses.
Crown Prosecutors, a.k.a. Crown Attorneys, play a pivotal role in our criminal justice system. They wield enormous power. They screen charges-deciding whether the charges that police laid should go ahead-based on the evidence and based on the “public interest”. And they get to decide what’s in the “public interest”. They decide what charges. How many. What evidence to call in court. How to characterize the case. What to say to the media about the case, and about the accused person. Crown Prosecutors have a responsibility to exercise this enormous state authority with great caution and restraint.
Crown Prosecutors have played a central role in the prosecution / persecution of people living with HIV, in Ontario and throughout Canada. For the most part, we have neither seen restraint nor caution. The Crown Prosecutors who have argued the cases, their Crown bosses, and the Attorney General are all public servants and are accountable to the public in some way, shape or form. We are again asking them to Think Twice about their role in HIV non-disclosure prosecutions, and about whether the public and justice are really being served by piling on charges (over-charging), going ahead with prosecutions where there is no real risk of HIV transmission, and vilifying people living with HIV in the media.
We have sent Ontario’s Attorney General, John Gerretsen, a cc of every letter. We’ll let you know when we hear back.