Abduction, literally leading away, historically meant the seizure of a wife from her husband, or a female infant or heiress from her parent or lawful guardian, for marriage, concubinage or prostitution. From Edward I's time, 17 June 1239 to 7 July 1307, abduction was a criminal offence, and the husband or guardian was entitled to monetary damages for the woman abducted.
Under section 280 of the Canadian Criminal Code abduction occurs when a person, without lawful authority, takes or causes to be taken an unmarried person under 16 years of age out of the possession of and against the will of the young person's parent or guardian. The abductor is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to a term of imprisonment of no more than 5 years.
Section 281 deals with young people under 14 years of age and states that abduction occurs when a person, who is not the parent or guardian, unlawfully takes, entices away or conceals, detains, receives or harbours the young person with the intent to deprive a parent or guardian of the possession of the child. The abductor is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.
Sections 282 and 283 address abduction by a parent or guardian of children under 14 years of age and the definition of abduction in these sections is essentially the same as that in section 281. Under these sections, the abductor is guilty of an indictable offence and is liable to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 10 years or is guilty of an offence punishable on summary conviction.
The consent of the young person is irrelevant with respect to the abduction offences, but abduction that was necessary to protect a young person from danger of imminent harm or because the abductor was escaping from the danger of imminent harm can be defences to a charge of abduction.
With the increase of drug trafficking, a number of countries have claimed the right to abduct offenders from a safe haven, by way of a ruse, or even by entering foreign territory, and bringing them for trial before their own courts. The International Law Commission of the United Nations has declared drug trafficking a crime under international law. When the treaty based on the proposal comes into force, all parties will be obliged to try traffickers in their territory or extradite them to interested countries.
See also kidnapping