Ex-convict released into KW region sparks criticism of Canada’s justice system

Last month, Hayan Yassin, convicted for two separate accounts of rape and kidnapping in 2011, was released into the KW region after serving ten years in prison. The Waterloo Regional Police issued an online warning to the public several weeks ago, sparking fear in women across the community.

The Correctional Service of Canada is partnering with the Offender Management Unit of Waterloo Regional Police Service to manage Yassin’s terms of release. These “protective” services state he is at high risk to re-offend or violate his parole conditions and urge the KW community to support the monitoring of Yassin’s adherence to parole conditions.

In other words, our regional and federal police are leaving their job to protect us in the hands of vulnerable populations. This request for community members to “be on their guard” aligns closely with the victim-blaming narrative that so often focuses on victim behaviour rather than mitigating the actions of the perpetrators.

Yassin’s history, including the violations of his previous parole conditions, is alarming at best. After serving eight years, Yassin was released in 2018. Only a mere four months passed before he violated his parole involving, among other things, failure to disclose attempted sexual/romantic relationships with women, and repeatedly walking near the University of Waterloo campus, an area in which he’s banned.

Yassin’s problematic views of women were revealed by his parole officers and were commented on during his original sentencing as well as during the revoking of his parole.

The release of Yassin into our community is one example of how our justice system’s sexual offence leniency forces women to be wary of everything in their lives. During his first parole, Yassin made a dating profile on Tinder, failing to disclose this to his parole officer. As such, young women are confronted with the reality that their Tinder date could be planning an assault. 

These are terrifying and challenging truths to face–even as I bring recycling bins to the curb at night, I am looking over my shoulder in fear.

The release of Yassin is upsetting to many, but it is only one case in a web of stories and convictions revealing a much deeper issue in Canadian society. Laws on sexual assault and kidnapping must be appropriately readjusted to protect potential victims from those who pose as much of a threat as Yassin.

Shockingly, our legal system has allowed a person with such characteristics to enter back into our community. Why is it that kidnapping and raping two women, on two separate occasions at weapon-point, results in a meager total of ten years served in prison?

Canadian laws for Kidnapping and Unlawful Confinement issue a maximum prison sentencing of ten years for kidnapping at gunpoint with a minimum of four years, with the case of sexual assault (including rape at weapon point) having a maximum of ten years with no minimum.

Meanwhile, trafficking a Schedule I controlled substance, such as opiates, leads to offenders facing life imprisonment. Given that there is a demand for drugs, and by definition it is impossible to ask to be raped, it is unjust that sexual offenders are so leniently punished comparatively. 

The fact that there is a maximum sentencing of ten years on the kidnapping and sexual assault of Canadians is dismissive of the reoccurring patterns in those who commit such crimes that blatantly display their lack of respect for human life. It also disregards the permanent psychological trauma brought on by these crimes.

These legal shortfalls serve as evidence of a justice system that is so deeply rooted in discrimination against women. The laws concerned with the sentencing of sexual assault, kidnapping, and other related crimes ought to be modified, allowing for life-sentencing.

To the readers who share this belief, I urge you to use your voice during the Canadian justice system’s failure(s). Share information about Yassin and other offenders with whoever you can, and contact your local Member of Parliament demanding for this long-overdue change.

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