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Research Paper

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Canada; criminal law; criminal justice; victims rights; Victims Bill of Rights; Bill C-32


This brief Commentary provides an evaluation of the proposed Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (a key part of Bill C-32), and recommendations aimed at ensuring that it meets the objective of meaningfully enhancing the rights of victims within the criminal justice system. Part 2 provides a synopsis of victimization in Canada, including both self-reported crime and police-reported crime. Groups of victims suffering disproportionately high levels of violent victimization are highlighted and reasons for under-reported crime related to the justice system are identified. Part 3 summarizes the key components of the Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. Part 4 evaluates this proposed legislation and recommends several amendments be made to it to better respond to victims and ensure its effectiveness, including: (1) broadening the definition of “victim” to ensure that organizations, including charities and non-profits, can claim rights when they are the victims of crime (such as fraud); (2) authorizing lawyers to act on behalf of victims; and (3) enhancing the status of victims in criminal proceedings and remedies available to them to ensure their rights are respected. Finally, Part 5 offers some closing comments on the way forward.


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