Victims' Rights - Stride Tips
Attaining these rights in Alberta
The recognition and protection of the rights of victims of crime are not unique to Alberta or Canada. Victims’ rights have been a conversation in the international arena for decades and were agreed upon in 1985 by members of the United Nations. Canada is a signing nation of this declaration of principles.
The United Nations’ Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, issued in 1985 has two main components:
- Affirms the necessity of adopting national and international measures in order to secure the universal and effective recognition of, and respect for, the rights of victims of crime and of abuse of power.
- Calls on member states to:
- Reduce victimization and encourage assistance to victims in distress by implementing social, physical and mental health, educational, economic and specific crime prevention policies;
- Promote community efforts and public participation in crime prevention;
- Periodically review their legislation and practises to ensure responsiveness to changing circumstances;
- Enact and enforce legislation proscribing acts that violate internationally recognized norms relating to human rights, corporate conduct and other abuses of power;
- Establish and strengthen the means of detecting, prosecuting and sentencing those guilty of crimes;
- Promote disclosure of relevant information to expose official and corporate conduct to public scrutiny, and other ways of increasing responsiveness to public concerns;
- Promote the observance of codes of conduct and ethical norms, in particular international standards, by public servants, including law enforcement, correctional, medical, social service and military personnel, as well as the staff of economic enterprises;
- Prohibit practises and procedures conducive to abuse, such as secret places of detention and incommunicado detention; and,
- Cooperate with other States, through mutual judicial and administrative assistance, in such matters as the detection and pursuit of offenders, their extradition and the seizure of their assets, to be used for restitution to the victims.
How has the international declaration being applied in Canada and Alberta:
UN Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, 1985
“Victims” means persons who, individually or collectively, have suffered harm, including physical or mental injury, emotional suffering, economic loss or substantial impairment of their fundamental rights, through acts or omissions that are in violation of criminal laws operative within Member States, including those laws proscribing criminal abuse of power.
A person may be considered a victim, under this Declaration, regardless of whether the perpetrator is identified, apprehended, prosecuted or convicted and regardless of the familial relationship between the perpetrator and victim. The term “victim” also includes, where appropriate, the immediate family or dependants of the direct victim and persons who have suffered harm in intervening to assist victims in distress or to prevent victimization.
Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, 2015
30 years after Canada signing the United Nations Declaration, the federal government created legislation to translate those international principles into victims rights in Canada. The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, 2015 defines “victim” as an individual who has suffered physical or emotional harm, property damage or economic loss as a result of the commission or alleged commission of an offence.
“An offence,” on the other hand, is defined in several legislative pieces including: the Criminal Code, the Youth Criminal Justice Act or the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, a designated substance offence as defined in section 2(1) of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act or an offence under section 91 or Part 3 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
Alberta Victims of Crime Act, 2013
The Province of Alberta created legislation around Victims rights in 2013. The Alberta Victims of Crime Act, 2013 defines “victim” as a person to whom harm has been done or who suffers physical or emotional loss as a result of the commission of the offence and, if the person is dead, ill or otherwise incapable, includes the spouse or adult interdependent partner or any relative of that person or anyone who has custody of that person in law or in fact or who is responsible for the care or support of that person.