The CBA calls Victims Bill of Rights Act an important step for victims of crime

  • November 06, 2014

Ottawa – The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) welcomes Bill C-32, Victims Bill of Rights Act, calling it an important step for victims of crime.

As a whole it is a responsible piece of legislation,” says Eric Gottardi, Chair of the CBA’s National Criminal Law Section.  He notes that the Bill would generally enhance victims’ involvement in the criminal justice process, while respecting the rights of the accused under Canadian law and paying attention to the efficient administration of justice.

Bill C-32 was introduced in April 2014. The CBA had expressed strong concerns about some ideas the government had previously put forward for consultation. “These included giving victims equal standing with Crown and defence in criminal proceedings, which we believed would be unworkable and negatively impact prosecutorial discretion and the administration of justice,” said Eric Gottardi.

Noting that these concerns had been largely addressed in the new legislation, the CBA recommends some changes to improve the Bill’s ability to withstand possible constitutional scrutiny, protect prosecutorial independence and ensure that the criminal justice system is actually able to deliver on any rights promised to victims of crime.

The CBA, in its submission, says victims need support, resources and education about the criminal justice process.  The CBA recommends that the VBR include the following:

  • a framework of victims’ rights and treatment during the criminal justice process;
  • national guidelines with respect to the treatment of victims in the criminal justice process, and resources to ensure those guidelines are achieved;
  • an outline of governments’ responsibilities to victims, including measures of practical importance to victims; and
  • recognition of victims as key witnesses, not as added parties to the criminal justice process.

Eric Gottardi will present to the CBA submission to the House of Commons Justice and Human Rights Committee on November 6, at 3:30 pm in Room 268, the Valour Building, 151 Sparks Street.

The CBA is dedicated to supporting the rule of law, improvements in the law, and the administration of justice. Some 37,000 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.