June 26, 2013 – In order to ensure that the dignity of victims and survivors of crime in Canada is respected, those harmed by crime must be guaranteed rights and be able to enforce these rights. We feel this is a critical way to re-balance the justice system in Canada, and have made our submission to the Department of Justice as part of their public consultation in developing a federal Victims’ Bill of Rights.
In it, we call for the needs of victims to be addressed in legislation by providing victims rights to: 1) Recognition, 2) Information, 3) Assistance, 4) Reparation, 5) Protection & Safety, 6) Participation & Representation, 7) Prevention and 8) Implementation. The status quo for victims in Canada is not acceptable – they are onlookers and outsiders who remain so due to vague statements of principles at all levels of government. Actors in the criminal justice system are not responsible or accountable for treating victims respectfully, let alone ensuring their needs for protection and support are met. In our brief, we call upon the federal government to meet international standards set for victims, such as the United Nations Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power (1985) and the European Union Directive (2012). We ask that the federal government ensure that victims’ rights are upheld to the highest possible degree in line with global human rights standards.