Monday, February 8, 2016

Exclusion of military from Canadian Bill of Rights for Victims of Crimes

In April 2015, the Canadian Parliament enacted the Canadian Bill of Rights for Victims of Crimes. The Bill provides for the following rights which may be exercised by the victim, the victim’s spouse,  the victim’s common law spouse, a relative or a dependant of the victim, the individual who is responsible for the care or support of the victim or, the individual who is responsible for the care or support of a dependant of the victim (see sections 6-17 inclusive).
  • Right to Information about the criminal justice system, the status and outcome of the police investigation, the location of the judicial proceedings and their progress and outcome;
  • Right to information about the offender or the accused;
  • Right to protection including right to have reasonable measures taken to protect the victim from intimidation and retaliation;
  • Right to privacy and to have their identity protected; 
  • Right to participation in the criminal justice system and to make a victim impact statement; and
  • Right to restitution
Every individual on Canadian soil (this includes citizens, permanent residents, tourists, visitors, refugees or even convicts as well as their family members) are entitled to the extensive rights accorded until this Act which was enacted on April 23, 2015.

However, in accordance with subsection 18(3) of the Canadian Bill of Rights for Victims of Crimes which are prosecuted before military tribunals are excluded from the rights and benefits accorded under this statute.

Why are military members and civilians excluded?

In an article appropriately titled Unfriendly Fire; Sex crimes, the military and ‘victims’ rights, the former Justice Minister, Peter MacKay, explains:
“ … (the) Victims Bill of Rights will not in fact apply to offences investigated or proceeded with under the Canadian military justice system,
adding it was “contemplated” but turned out to be “problematic” because the military’s disciplinary tribunals “are administered by the chain of command.

Yet, as Steve Sullivan wrote in Unfriendly Fire:
[N]obody needs the protection of a Victims’ Bill of Rights more than soldiers. And they’re not getting it. . . The brave men and women who protect us deserve our protection in return — whether it’s from a rocket fired by a foreign fighter or a sexual assault committed by a trusted superior.

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