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Latimer's high-profile status should allow him to travel

The inability of Robert Latimer to travel abroad shouldn’t be an issue due to his high-profile status, says Toronto criminal lawyer Scott Reid.

According to the CBC, Latimer, who was convicted of killing his severely disabled daughter is challenging the National Parole Board decision that is currently preventing him from travelling outside of Canada.

Latimer filed a notice of application in Federal Court in Vancouver, reports CBC, requesting that a decision that was made by the parole board’s appeal division in November and requires him to obtain pre-approval for international travel be reviewed.

“It’s an unusual situation,” says Reid, associate at Edward H. Royle & Associates. “He served his time in one sense, but he’s a lifer. He’s going to be on parole for the rest of his life and that just goes along with the murder conviction. The issues surrounding his conviction have been thoroughly canvassed for years, and he’s in the situation he’s in and without a pardon he’s subject to parole rules.”

However, Reid says Latimer isn’t low-profile and, “in most cases, parole rules surrounding travel are put in for a good reason because they want to know where they are at all times. His situation is not normal – he doesn’t fly under the radar.

“He does speaking engagements and wants to go work abroad for Habitat for Humanity,” says Reid. “They aren’t going to lose track of this guy. He wants to use the fact that he’s a person in the public eye as a means to effect social change. There’s a rationale for the rule, but it really doesn’t apply to him. If I were the government, I’d certainly want to give him that ability to travel.”

To deny the travel application it puts him in the media spotlight more and that can’t be good for the Conservative government, adds Reid.

Latimer received clearance to travel to Peru for a Habitat for Humanity project, the article says, but his plans might fall through because officials won’t be able to process his travel documents until mid-February.

Reid says the decision seems typical for a government that doesn’t, “pick and choose their battles wisely,” says Reid. “This is an issue that is going to generate a great deal of sympathy and it’s going to make the government look bad. There isn’t a person in the world who would think that this should apply so broadly to all criminally convicted.

“I would imagine it’s supposed to be a case-by-case analysis, but the government is hardline and not willing to interfere. It’s time sensitive and you’d think they’d just want to just deal with it quickly.”

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