This week we are moving into the topic of victim rights. Did you know that there is a bill in Canada made specifically to help victims of crime. It is called the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. The bill states that “a victim is an individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, economic loss or property damage as a result of a crime committed in Canada”. “If a victim is deceased or is unable to act on their own behalf, the following people may act on the victim’s behalf”. These people would include (but are not limited to) the victim’s spouse, a relative or dependant of the victim, anyone who has custody of the victim. This bill allows the victim – or the actor on the victims behalf – to the right to information, protection and participation. As well as allowing them to seek restitution and to make a complaint if these rights are not being adhered too. It is also important to know that victims have such rights at ALL stages of the criminal process. The only limitation is that the rights may not “interfere with investigations or prosecutions, endanger someone’s life or safety, or injure national interests such as national security”.
Below are the rights which are outlined in the bill:
The Right to information
The victim has the right to request specific information about the case, including information relating to investigation, prosecution, and sentencing the person who harmed you, and information about the accused who has been found unfit to stand trial or not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder.
The Right to Protection
The victim has the right to security and privacy “at all stages of the criminal justice process”.
As well as the right to the necessary measures of protection.
The Right to Participation
The victim has the right to state their “views about decisions made by criminal justice professionals” that could potentially impact them under the victim bill of rights. Another form of participation would be the right to present your victim impact statement, and have it considered.
The Right to seek Restitution
The victim has the right to have the court consider making a restitution order against their offender – if you have financial loss because of the crime.
The Right to make a complaint
If your rights of a victim have not been followed, the victim has the right to complain, using the complaint system in the department or agency which violated their victims rights.
It is important that everyone is aware that they have these rights. If something is to happen then the victim can seek help, potentially rectifying the situation, or at least allowing some sort of closure and clarification – depending on the case. Victims services such as, The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, help victims to seek retribution for loss, while potentially allowing closure as stated above; whether this closure is for the person acting on the victim’s behalf or for the victim themselves. Closure through the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights – when these rights are adhered too – can also be seen in the people close to the victim, such as family and friends. Knowing that we have victim rights and that these rights are being followed can sometimes allow some peace of mind in horrible situations. As well as, ensure rightful, respectful and fair treatment is being given to the victim or actor.
The harsh reality is that in cases of murder is the rights of the victim have been take in perpetuity and the family can never recover the loss of their beloved relative. Legally the case is of the Government (prosecution) versus the accused killer and the other stakeholders are primarily spectators. Recently we have seen how tragically broken these systems are in Canada as child killer Terry Mclintic was moved to a healing lounge only years after murdering a child and infamous rapist killer Paul Bernardo had a parole hearing that necessitated the young girls parents relive their loss in front of the monster who tortured their girls. We have a long way to go to protect victims of crime against the criminals who have taken the rights of others. Too often it seems like the system is more concerned with the rights of the criminals than it is of the innocent.
For further information on your rights as a victim please use the link below: