Canada is usually news for very few things. But in this case, the calm and peaceful North American country jumps to the fore for the approval of a law that will allow crimes committed on the Moon to be prosecuted. Also in the rest of space, the International Space Station or wherever the human being arrives outside the Earth. Specifically, the decision taken by Canada indicates that whatever is a crime within its territory, it will also be a crime in space.
This decision comes with an amendment to the space law that the country already has. The Canadian House of Commons approved this proposal last April, which has been successful after binding approvals and is expected to have the green light at the end of this month. In this way, Canada extends its criminal jurisdiction into space.
For all astronauts? The explanations by the House of Commons only refer to crew members with Canadian passports. Which means that if a pilot from that country commits a failure by omission or punishable act, he will be punished as if he had done it on Canadian territory. If a local astronaut commits murder on the Moon – regardless of the nationality of the victim – he will be prosecuted under the same laws as Canada. In addition to submitting to the complicated international mess that this would entail. An image that is very reminiscent of the fiction of for all mankind from Apple TV+. And that is not far from what can happen in reality.
It is not the first time that the national laws of a country extend to space, in any case. Already in 1998, and as a consequence of the multiculturalism of the International Space Station, NASA approved that the countries that formed part of the consortium could extend its jurisdiction to the international space headquarters. However, the new amendment extends Canada’s capability to the Moon as well. A territory that since 1967, and after the United Nations Outer Space Treaty, should remain outside the national war interests and be a point of peaceful investigation. Neither could you claim ownership of outer space. This was more than half a century ago and international tensions – where Russia has already withdrawn from the International Space Station – have brought the space race to the fore. Also the interest of protecting the safety of their compatriots.
Canada takes a run in the space conquest
With everything, Canada has never been one of the most active countries in the space race. As a junior partner in the International Space Station, he had always kept a low profile. Until now. With the space race taking off, now in the hands of billionaires, Canada wants to resume its role in the conquest of space. Following in the footsteps of Bezos with Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic or Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the calmest country in the world wants to take a stand.
And, it seems, they have very clear objectives: the next construction of the Lunar Gateaway. An international project, in which Canada also participates, to build a lunar orbit space station. Also that, in the medium term, it is capable of establishing a base on the surface of the Moon. So updating Canada’s space criminal law seems, to say the least, interested in playing a leading role in what happens on our satellite.