MPs fight online predators who counsel suicide

The House of Commons voted unanimously in favour of a motion Wednesday that could change how the Criminal Code deals with people who counsel others over the internet to commit suicide.

The House of Commons voted unanimously in favour of a motion Wednesday that could change how the Criminal Code deals with people who counsel others over the internet to commit suicide.

The motion put forward by Harold Albrecht, Conservative MP for the Ontario riding of Kitchener-Conestoga, was a response to the death of Nadia Kajouji, an 18-year-old Carleton university student who threw herself into the Rideau River in March 2008.

During the investigation into Kajouji's death, police discovered that a 47-year-old male nurse from Minnesota — who was posing as a 28-year-old woman online — might have encouraged Kajouji via an internet chat room to commit suicide. No charges have been laid in the case, under either U.S. or Canadian law.

Definition of 'aiding and abetting' unclear

Section 241 of the Canadian Criminal Code says "everyone who … counsels a person to commit suicide, or aids or abets a person to commit suicide, whether suicide ensues or not, is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to imprisonment for a term not exceeding fourteen years."

Albrecht would like to see the definition of aiding and abetting clarified to include the use of technologies like internet chat rooms. Wednesday's motion isn't legally binding, but Albrecht intends to work with the federal Justice Department to draft a formal bill.

"I think clarifying it in the law will give that deterrent message to close that potential loophole, and there will be adequate pressure to make sure that another story like Nadia's never occurs, " Albrecht said.

After nearly two years of suffering, Wednesday's motion brought some peace to Kajouji's family.

"All those people over there, all the MPs, they're doing something for Nadia and other kids. And it makes me very happy. It makes me very proud, " Mohamed Kajouji, Nadia's father said.

Marc Kajouji, Nadia's brother, was relieved to see something positive come from his sister's death.

"There's a lot of joy today surrounding me. And that's obviously because of Nadia, who's definitely smiling down on us, and very happy with the result I'm sure."