Canada's churches have applauded a decision by the country's Supreme Court on February 15 forbidding the extradition of two alleged killers to the U.S. state of Washington unless the United States authorities give assurances that the two men will not face the death penalty if convicted.

The Supreme Court's decision has been welcomed by the Canadian Council on Justice and Corrections (CCJC), a coalition of 11 churches which together have 14,000 congregations in Canada. The last execution of a criminal in Canada took place in 1962 and the country abolished the death penalty in 1976.

In a statement released after the Supreme Court decision, the CCJC said: "We strongly believe that neither our sense of morality or justice stops at the 49th parallel [which divides Canada and the U.S.] for any Canadian, or any Canadian legislator . …our church coalition . …[believes] unequivocally that state-sanctioned executions are wrong, in every case, for everyone, everywhere. Canada should always seek guarantees that the death penalty will not be carried out in such cases. Our extradition policy must affirm rather than undermine our country's official policy against the death penalty."

Canadians Glen Sebastian Burns and Atif Ahmad Rafay have been held in a jail in Vancouver, British Columbia, since they were charged with the brutal murder on of Rafay's parents and sister at their home in Seattle on July 13, 1994.

It is alleged that Burns battered the three people to death with a baseball bat while Rafay stood and watched. The pair, then aged 18-years-old, allegedly hoped to collect on the family insurance policy.

They were arrested a year later after a Royal Canadian Mounted Police investigation during which they allegedly confessed to an undercover ...

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