Ottawa, Apr 28, 2022 (AFP) – Canadian lawmakers are due to vote on Thursday to amend the country’s penal code to allow the prosecution of crimes committed on the moon.
The proposed amendment to the law – which is expected to pass – is included in a 443-page budget execution project presented to Parliament this week.
Ottawa has already expanded its jurisdiction over criminal acts committed by Canadian astronauts during space travel to the International Space Station (ISS).
Under this legislation, crimes committed in space receive the same treatment as those committed on Canadian territory.
The update comes as the number of spaceflights increases and ahead of the first manned mission to the Moon in more than 50 years, scheduled to launch in May 2024, with a Canadian astronaut aboard the Artemis II spacecraft.
Under the subheading Lunar Gateway, the Penal Code amendment reads: “A Canadian crew member who, while in spaceflight, commits an act or omission outside Canada which, if committed in Canada, would constitute a punishable offence, shall be deemed to have having committed that act or omission in Canada”.
This includes crimes en route or on the Lunar Gateway space station that is preparing to orbit the Moon, and also “on the surface of the Moon”, the document says.
Foreign astronauts who “threaten the life or safety of a Canadian crew member” on a Canadian-backed space mission could also be prosecuted, under the bill.
The Canadian Space Agency participates in the Lunar Gateway project, led by NASA, along with the European Space Agency and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency.
From 2026, this station will serve as a starting point for robotic and human exploration of the lunar surface, as well as for trips to Mars.