An Act to amend the Criminal Code (orders of prohibition and orders restricting publication)
Short title: Putting Victims First Act
Sponsor: MP Arnold Viersen
- This legislation will:
- Extend Section 161 prohibition orders to protect children between the ages of 16-17.
- Establish a process in the Criminal Code for a victim (or member of their family if deceased) to lift a publication ban.
- Introduce reverse onus bail for human trafficking offences.
Prohibition Order for s. 153 - sexual exploitation:
Extending prohibition orders to victims of sexual exploitation ensures they have the same rights and protection from offenders as those under 16 years old.
- Section 161 prohibition orders can only be made for offences that have been committed against a child who is under the age of 16. This amendment seeks to extend protection to kids aged 16 and 17.
- The offence of sexual exploitation s.153 applies only if the child is aged 16 and 17, and thus it is not an offence for which a Section 161 prohibition order can be made.
- Individuals convicted of an s. 153 offence have been found guilty of committing a sexual offence while being in a position of trust or authority over the young person, who the young person has a relationship of dependency, or who is in a relationship with a young person that is exploitative of the young person.
- This amendment is designed to empower the court with the ability to impose conditions that are aimed at preventing such a person from being able to take advantage of her/his position in relation to a child who is 16 or 17.
Lifting Publication Bans:
Victims’ rights are enhanced when there is a clear and simple process for them to lift publication bans. Victims should not have to fight to speak and share their story.
- The Supreme Court of Canada has held that the purpose of a publication ban in sexual offence proceedings is to “encourage victims to come forward” and to “facilitate the prosecution and conviction of those guilty of sexual offences.”
- Publication bans are meant to protect victims, particularly young victims. Publication bans should never favour and protect offenders.
- However, once the victim no longer needs or wants the protection, there is no simple process to lift the publication ban. This has the effect of ‘double silencing’ victims.
- There also in inequity among victims. Under the Youth Criminal Justice Act, victims of crimes committed by other children are covered by a mandatory publication ban, but upon turning 18, have the option of lifting the ban.
- However, young victims under a publication ban where the offender is an adult, do not have access to the same mechanism to lift the ban when they turn 18.
- For many victims, trying to get a publication ban lifted is viewed as a fight since there is no clear process to follow or criteria to use to consider the request.
- A year ago, CBC covered the story of a survivor of child pornography who has been fighting for over a year to reveal her real name to the public but has failed to convince the court to lift the publication ban. "I have a right to tell my story. I have a right to be named. This is my story."
- Since publication bans continue to apply after the death of the victim, this amendment allows the family of a deceased victim to apply for a publication ban to be lifted.
- In 2014, a Nova Scotia Provincial Court denied the request of a Rehtaeh Parson’s parents to lift a publication ban on their child’s name.
Reverse Onus Bail for Trafficking offences:
Trafficking victims must be empowered to come forward knowing their trafficker or pimp will not be back on the street within hours of arrest.
- Victims of human trafficking should have confidence that the criminal justice system is there to protect them.
- Reverse onus bail on trafficking offences will put the safety and well-being of victims ahead of those who traffic them.
- Human traffickers need to know that the full weight of the Canadian justice system is waiting for them.
- The first two amendments were part of a series of recommendations drafted by the Canadian Centre for Child Protection.