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Victims Bill of Rights Act (S.C. 2015, c. 13)

Assented to 2015-04-23

Victims Bill of Rights Act

S.C. 2015, c. 13

Assented to 2015-04-23

An Act to enact the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights and to amend certain Acts

SUMMARY

This enactment enacts the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, which specifies that victims of crime have the following rights:

  • (a) the right to information about the criminal justice system, the programs and services that are available to victims of crime and the complaint procedures that are available to them when their rights have been infringed or denied;

  • (b) the right to information about the status of the investigation and the criminal proceedings, as well as information about reviews while the offender is subject to the corrections process, or about hearings after the accused is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial, and information about the decisions made at those reviews and hearings;

  • (c) the right to have their security and privacy considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system;

  • (d) the right to protection from intimidation and retaliation;

  • (e) the right to request testimonial aids;

  • (f) the right to convey their views about decisions to be made by authorities in the criminal justice system that affect the victim’s rights under this Act and to have those views considered;

  • (g) the right to present a victim impact statement and to have it considered;

  • (h) the right to have the courts consider making, in all cases, a restitution order against the offender; and

  • (i) the right to have a restitution order entered as a civil court judgment that is enforceable against the offender if the amount owing under the restitution order is not paid.

The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights also specifies

  • (a) the periods during which the rights apply;

  • (b) the individuals who may exercise the rights;

  • (c) the complaint mechanism for victims and the requirements for federal departments to create complaint mechanisms; and

  • (d) how the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights is to be interpreted.

This enactment amends the Criminal Code to

  • (a) align the definition of “victim” with the definition of “victim” in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights;

  • (b) protect the privacy and security interests of complainants and witnesses in proceedings involving certain sexual offences and ensure that they are informed of their right to be represented by legal counsel;

  • (c) broaden the conduct to which the offence of intimidation of justice system participants applies;

  • (d) expand the list of factors that a court may take into consideration when determining whether an exclusion order is in the interest of the proper administration of justice;

  • (e) make testimonial aids more accessible to vulnerable witnesses;

  • (f) enable witnesses to testify using a pseudonym in appropriate cases;

  • (g) make publication bans for victims under the age of 18 mandatory on application;

  • (h) provide that an order for judicial interim release must indicate that the safety and security of every victim was taken into consideration;

  • (i) require the court to inquire of the prosecutor if reasonable steps have been taken to inform the victims of any plea agreement entered into by the accused and the prosecutor in certain circumstances;

  • (j) add victim impact statement forms to assist victims to convey their views at sentencing proceedings and at hearings held by Review Boards;

  • (k) provide that the acknowledgment of the harm done to the victims and to the community is a sentencing objective;

  • (l) clarify the provisions relating to victim impact statements;

  • (m) allow for community impact statements to be considered for all offences;

  • (n) provide that victims may request a copy of a judicial interim release order, probation order or a conditional sentence order;

  • (o) specify that the victim surcharge must be paid within the reasonable time established by the lieutenant governor of the province in which it is imposed;

  • (p) provide a form for requesting a restitution order; and

  • (q) provide that courts must consider the making of a restitution order in all cases, and that, in multiple victim cases, a restitution order may specify the amounts owed to each victim and designate the priority of payment among the victims.

The enactment amends the Canada Evidence Act to provide that no person is incompetent, or uncompellable, to testify for the prosecution by reason only that they are married to the accused. It also amends that Act to add a new subsection to govern the questioning of witnesses over the age of 14 years in certain circumstances.

This enactment amends the Corrections and Conditional Release Act to

  • (a) align the definition of “victim” with the definition of “victim” in the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights;

  • (b) permit victims to have access to information about the offender’s progress in relation to the offender’s correctional plan;

  • (c) permit victims to be shown a current photograph of the offender at the time of the offender’s conditional release or the expiration of the offender’s sentence;

  • (d) permit the disclosure of information to victims concerning an offender’s deportation before the expiration of the offender’s sentence;

  • (e) permit the disclosure to victims of an offender’s release date, destination and conditions of release, unless the disclosure would have a negative impact on public safety;

  • (f) allow victims to designate a representative to receive information under the Act and to waive their right to information under the Act;

  • (g) require that the Correctional Service of Canada inform victims about its victim-offender mediation services;

  • (h) permit victims who do not attend a parole hearing to listen to an audio recording of the hearing;

  • (i) provide for the provision to victims of decisions of the Parole Board of Canada regarding the offender; and

  • (j) require, when victims have provided a statement describing the harm, property damage or loss suffered by them as the result of the commission of an offence, that the Parole Board of Canada impose victim non-contact or geographic restrictions as conditions of release, where reasonable and necessary, to protect the victims in relation to an offender who is the subject of a long-term supervision order.

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

SHORT TITLE

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Victims Bill of Rights Act.

CANADIAN VICTIMS BILL OF RIGHTS

Marginal note:Enactment of Act

 The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights is enacted as follows:

An Act for the Recognition of Victims Rights

Preamble

Whereas crime has a harmful impact on victims and on society;

Whereas victims of crime and their families deserve to be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect, including respect for their dignity;

Whereas it is important that victims’ rights be considered throughout the criminal justice system;

Whereas victims of crime have rights that are guaranteed by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms;

Whereas consideration of the rights of victims of crime is in the interest of the proper administration of justice;

Whereas the federal, provincial and territorial governments share responsibility for criminal justice;

Whereas, in 1988, the federal, provincial and territorial governments endorsed the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and, in 2003, the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime, 2003;

Now, therefore, Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

SHORT TITLE

Marginal note:Short title

1. This Act may be cited as the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights.

INTERPRETATION

Marginal note:Definitions

2. The following definitions apply in this Act.

“offence”

« infraction »

“offence” means an offence under the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act or the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, a designated substance offence as defined in subsection 2(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or an offence under section 91 or Part 3 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

“victim”

« victime »

“victim” means an individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss as the result of the commission or alleged commission of an offence.

Marginal note:Acting on victim’s behalf

3. Any of the following individuals may exercise a victim’s rights under this Act if the victim is dead or incapable of acting on their own behalf:

  • (a) the victim’s spouse or the individual who was at the time of the victim’s death their spouse;

  • (b) the individual who is or was at the time of the victim’s death, cohabiting with them in a conjugal relationship, having so cohabited for a period of at least one year;

  • (c) a relative or dependant of the victim;

  • (d) an individual who has in law or fact custody, or is responsible for the care or support, of the victim;

  • (e) an individual who has in law or fact custody, or is responsible for the care or support, of a dependant of the victim.

Marginal note:Exception

4. An individual is not a victim in relation to an offence, or entitled to exercise a victim’s rights under this Act, if the individual is charged with the offence, found guilty of the offence or found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial in respect of the offence.

Marginal note:Criminal justice system

5. For the purpose of this Act, the criminal justice system consists of

  • (a) the investigation and prosecution of offences in Canada;

  • (b) the corrections process and the conditional release process in Canada; and

  • (c) the proceedings of courts and Review Boards, as those terms are defined in subsection 672.1(1) of the Criminal Code, in respect of accused who are found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial.

RIGHTS

Information

Marginal note:General information

6. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about

  • (a) the criminal justice system and the role of victims in it;

  • (b) the services and programs available to them as a victim, including restorative justice programs; and

  • (c) their right to file a complaint for an infringement or denial of any of their rights under this Act.

Marginal note:Investigation and proceedings

7. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about

  • (a) the status and outcome of the investigation into the offence; and

  • (b) the location of proceedings in relation to the offence, when they will take place and their progress and outcome.

Marginal note:Information about offender or accused

8. Every victim has the right, on request, to information about

  • (a) reviews under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act relating to the offender’s conditional release and the timing and conditions of that release; and

  • (b) hearings held for the purpose of making dispositions, as defined in subsection 672.1(1) of the Criminal Code, in relation to the accused, if the accused is found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial, and the dispositions made at those hearings.

Protection

Marginal note:Security

9. Every victim has the right to have their security considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system.

Marginal note:Protection from intimidation and retaliation

10. Every victim has the right to have reasonable and necessary measures taken by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system to protect the victim from intimidation and retaliation.

Marginal note:Privacy

11. Every victim has the right to have their privacy considered by the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system.

Marginal note:Identity protection

12. Every victim has the right to request that their identity be protected if they are a complainant to the offence or a witness in proceedings relating to the offence.

Marginal note:Testimonial aids

13. Every victim has the right to request testimonial aids when appearing as a witness in proceedings relating to the offence.

Participation

Marginal note:Views to be considered

14. Every victim has the right to convey their views about decisions to be made by appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system that affect the victim’s rights under this Act and to have those views considered.

Marginal note:Victim impact statement

15. Every victim has the right to present a victim impact statement to the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system and to have it considered.

Restitution

Marginal note:Restitution order

16. Every victim has the right to have the court consider making a restitution order against the offender.

Marginal note:Enforcement

17. Every victim in whose favour a restitution order is made has the right, if they are not paid, to have the order entered as a civil court judgment that is enforceable against the offender.

GENERAL PROVISIONS

Marginal note:Application
  • 18. (1) This Act applies in respect of a victim of an offence in their interactions with the criminal justice system

    • (a) while the offence is investigated or prosecuted;

    • (b) while the offender is subject to the corrections process or the conditional release process in relation to the offence; and

    • (c) while the accused is, in relation to the offence, under the jurisdiction of a court or a Review Board, as those terms are defined in subsection 672.1(1) of the Criminal Code, if they are found not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial.

  • Marginal note:Reporting of offence

    (2) For the purpose of subsection (1), if an offence is reported to the appropriate authorities in the criminal justice system, the investigation of the offence is deemed to begin at the time of the reporting.

  • Marginal note:National Defence Act

    (3) This Act does not apply in respect of offences that are service offences, as defined in subsection 2(1) of the National Defence Act, that are investigated or proceeded with under that Act.

Marginal note:Exercise of rights
  • 19. (1) The rights of victims under this Act are to be exercised through the mechanisms provided by law.

  • Marginal note:Connection to Canada

    (2) A victim is entitled to exercise their rights under this Act only if they are present in Canada or they are a Canadian citizen or a permanent resident within the meaning of subsection 2(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

Marginal note:Interpretation of this Act

20. This Act is to be construed and applied in a manner that is reasonable in the circumstances, and in a manner that is not likely to

  • (a) interfere with the proper administration of justice, including

    • (i) by causing interference with police discretion or causing excessive delay in, or compromising or hindering, the investigation of any offence, and

    • (ii) by causing interference with prosecutorial discretion or causing excessive delay in, or compromising or hindering, the prosecution of any offence;

  • (b) interfere with ministerial discretion;

  • (c) interfere with the discretion that may be exercised by any person or body authorized to release an offender into the community;

  • (d) endanger the life or safety of any individual; or

  • (e) cause injury to international relations or national defence or national security.

Marginal note:Interpretation of other Acts, regulations, etc.

21. To the extent that it is possible to do so, every Act of Parliament enacted — and every order, rule or regulation made under such an Act — before, on or after the day on which this Act comes into force must be construed and applied in a manner that is compatible with the rights under this Act.

Marginal note:Primacy in event of inconsistency
  • 22. (1) If, after the application of sections 20 and 21, there is any inconsistency between any provision of this Act and any provision of any Act, order, rule or regulation referred to in section 21, the provision of this Act prevails to the extent of the inconsistency.

  • Marginal note:Exception — Acts and regulations, etc.

    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply in respect of the Canadian Bill of Rights, the Canadian Human Rights Act, the Official Languages Act, the Access to Information Act and the Privacy Act and orders, rules and regulations made under any of those Acts.

Marginal note:No adverse inference

23. No adverse inference is to be drawn against a person who is charged with an offence from the fact that an individual has been identified as a victim in relation to the offence.

Marginal note:Entering or remaining in Canada

24. Nothing in this Act is to be construed so as to permit any individual to

  • (a) enter Canada or to remain in Canada beyond the end of the period for which they are authorized to so remain;

  • (b) delay any removal proceedings or prevent the enforcement of any removal order; or

  • (c) delay any extradition proceedings or prevent the extradition of any person to or from Canada.

REMEDIES

Marginal note:Complaint — federal entity
  • 25. (1) Every victim who is of the opinion that any of their rights under this Act have been infringed or denied by a federal department, agency or body has the right to file a complaint in accordance with its complaints mechanism.

  • Marginal note:Complaint to authority

    (2) Every victim who has exhausted their recourse under the complaints mechanism and who is not satisfied with the response of the federal department, agency or body may file a complaint with any authority that has jurisdiction to review complaints in relation to that department, agency or body.

  • Marginal note:Complaints mechanism

    (3) Every federal department, agency or body that is involved in the criminal justice system must have a complaints mechanism that provides for

    • (a) a review of complaints involving alleged infringements or denials of rights under this Act;

    • (b) the power to make recommendations to remedy such infringements and denials; and

    • (c) the obligation to notify victims of the result of those reviews and of the recommendations, if any were made.

Marginal note:Complaint — provincial or territorial entity

26. Every victim who is of the opinion that their rights under this Act have been infringed or denied by a provincial or territorial department, agency or body may file a complaint in accordance with the laws of the province or territory.

Marginal note:Status

27. Nothing in this Act is to be construed as granting to, or removing from, any victim or any individual acting on behalf of a victim the status of party, intervenor or observer in any proceedings.

Marginal note:No cause of action

28. No cause of action or right to damages arises from an infringement or denial of a right under this Act.

Marginal note:No appeal

29. No appeal lies from any decision or order solely on the grounds that a right under this Act has been infringed or denied.

 
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