CACP Bulletin

Spring 2016

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6 CACP Spring 2016 O n July 23, 2015, the majority of provisions included in Bill C-32, the Victims Bill of Rights Act, came into force. 1 This legislation creates the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR) to provide statutory rights at the federal level for victims of crime for the first time in Canada's history. Police services in Canada play an important role in providing victims with access to these rights. Background The CVBR establishes statutory rights for victims to: • information; • protection; • participation, and • seek restitution. Further, it ensures that a complaint process in is in place for breaches of these rights by a federal department or agency. A victim can exercise these rights in the CVBR while an offence is being investigated or prosecuted and while the offender is subject to the corrections or conditional release process. For cases in which an accused has been found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder, the victim can exercise these rights while the accused is under the jurisdiction of a court or Review Board. The CVBR includes a limitation clause to specify that the rights are to be applied in a reasonable manner so they do not interfere with police or prosecutorial discretion, cause excessive delay, compromise an investigation or prosecution, or cause a stay of proceedings. Why is the CVBR important? The CVBR essentially provides victims with rights across the criminal justice continuum, from time of crime, to investigation, trial, sentencing, and federal corrections and conditional release in applicable circumstances. In this way, police services should be aware of, and active in, providing victims with access to the following rights during the investigation of an alleged offence: • Right to information, upon request, about the status and outcome of the alleged offence, location of proceedings, and available services, • Right to protection by having their security and privacy considered during the investigation and to have reasonable and necessary measures taken to protect the victim from intimidation and retaliation, • Right to participation by conveying their views when decisions are made by authorities that affect their rights provided by the CVBR, and • Remedy: Victims who feel that their rights have been breached by a federal department, agency or body, can file a complaint through its complaints process. While many police services, through practice and operations, have provided much of this, the CVBR brings about a more clear responsibility for police services, while giving victims an idea of what they can expect. Police as a "door- in" to victims' rights Police play a fundamental role in moving victims' rights beyond words on paper to meaningfully implementing them in their 1 Some amendments to the Corrections and Conditional Release Act have not yet come into force, and will on a day or days to be fixed by Order in Council. Making victims' rights real in your community: FROM LEGISLATION TO IMPLEMENTATION Sue O'Sullivan Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime

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