Dear Blog Readers,

Normally, I would place this under our WUNRN, Women’s United Nations Report Network, button, but this latest post from our contact, Lois Herman, should not be hidden under a button:


Prof. Rebecca Cook testifies at B.C. polygamy trial

On January 6, 2011, Prof. Rebecca Cook, Co-Director of the
International Reproductive and Sexual Health Law Programme at the
University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law,  provided expert testimony at
the trial being held in front of the British Columbia Supreme Court 
on the question of whether the law banning polygamy is

Judge Bauman has been asked to determine whether or
not Canada’s polygamy law is constitutional. The issue was referred
to him by the Attorney-General of B.C. after polygamy charges against
two Mormon religious leaders in the community of Bountiful were
stayed in 2009.

Prof. Cook was called as a witness for the Attorney-General of
British Columbia, who is seeking to uphold the polygamy law. She told
the court that the practice of polygamy violates international human
rights law, and that the number of nations that outlaw it is increasing.

Her testimony was featured in several Canadian newspapers with
headlines such as
“Polygamy subject to rights law: Prof  — Canada has international obligations”

Rebecca Cook also submitted an expert report on Canada’s
international obligations to eliminate polygamy, online here:

Prof. Cook had earlier prepared a report on the subject for the
Department of Justice Canada, Polygyny and Canada’s Obligations under
International Human Rights Law, by R.J. Cook and L.M. Kelly (Ottawa:
Department of Justice of Canada, 2006). The Full Report, co-authored
with Lisa Kelly, is available online:

Two of her colleagues at the University of Toronto,  law professors
Mohammad Fadel and Anver Emon, also submitted briefs to the BC
Supreme Court regarding the issue of polygamy in Islamic law and
Islamic contemporary practice.

Prof. Anver Emon’s brief

Prof. Mohammad Fadel’s brief

The David Asper Centre for Constitutional Rights at the same law
faculty also submitted a brief to the court in conjunction with the
Canadian Coalition for the Rights of Children, regarding the need to
consider the rights of children in the case.


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