Crime victims and constitutional rights

Author(s)Young, Alan N
Title Crime victims and constitutional rights
Source Criminal Law Quarterly, Vol. 49, Issue 4 (February 2005), pp. 432-473
Date 2005
Document type Journal article
Coverage Canada
Summary This article addresses the feasibility, desirability and need for a constitutional amendment in Canada to enshrine victims' rights. It is recognised that despite an exponential growth of legislation designed to safeguard the interests of victims, law reform measures have been condemned as ineffective and victim dissatisfaction continues. The article outlines the history of the victims' rights movement in North America, followed by a discussion of the nature of victims' rights. The focus of entrenching victims' rights in Canada would be on participatory rights in which victims seek a more active involvement in the criminal process. The author sees the introduction of victim impact statements as the most significant innovation regarding participatory rights in Canada. However studies have shown low rates of participation and confusion over the rationale for allowing them. One important conclusion reached by the author is that a constitutional amendment would not address the problem of professional neutralisation where lawyers do not recognise victims as a legitimate party in criminal proceedings. It is recommended that at this time a constitutional amendment is not needed but efforts could be put into education and training of the legal community.
Keywords Victims rights; charter

Victims rights