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Victims

The reasonable and legitimate needs of victims need to be accommodated while respecting the rights of all parties in the criminal justice system.

Rationale

Services need to be provided to victims of violent crimes that are comparable to those provided to the offenders.

As part of their healing, victims need to have opportunities for involvement in the criminal justice process. It is important however, to avoid another adversarial situation as the needs of victims are addressed.

The Criminal Code allows victims to make impact statements to the courts as long as they focus on the harm done to them or their losses. Victims should similarly have the opportunity to present impact statements to National Parole Board hearings in person or by other means. These statements need to be directed to the harm done to them by crime and the long term impact it has had on their lives. They must avoid seeking veto authority on the release of offenders.

Offenders should not be able to profit from their criminal acts at the expense of their victims. As a result we support court imposed restitution orders where practicable.

In addition, provincial victim compensation boards should assist victims of crime in addressing their urgent physical, emotional and financial needs.

Background

The criminal courts have long recognized a role for victims. Section 722 of the Criminal Code lays out the parameters for such a role with procedures for filing written impact statements and subsequent oral presentation in court.

Changes to the CCRA in 2012 have enshrined in law the rights of victims to access more information regarding the correctional progress of their perpetrators, including program participation, reasons for transfers and temporary absences. They will be able to input into the decision making process of correctional officials and make an oral statement at parole hearings. An additional safeguard against further traumatisation of victims and unnecessary travel to parole hearings permits the Parole Board of Canada to proceed with a review even if an offender withdraws his application within 14 days of a planned hearing.

In addition, the new Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act now specifically permits victims to sue perpetrators and foreign countries who provided support for terrorism.

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