This year’s Victims of Crime Awareness Week (April 6 – 12) is about “Taking Action.”
Cheryl Tiller, the coordinator of Parkland Victims Services said everyone can have a role in helping victims of crime.
“How are you taking action?” she said. “We can all help victims of crime have a more effective voice in the criminal justice system.”
Tiller had organized to have victims advocates speak at an event in Yorkton yesterday, but it had to be cancelled due to an ongoing publication ban in their case.
Nevertheless, she said, it is important to have these focused awareness events, both for the victims and the community at large.
“Victims Week is about raising awareness about issues facing victims of crime and the services, programs and laws in place to help them and their families,” she said, pointing out that these services are available right here in Yorkton and all the surrounding area.
Last week, perhaps not coincidentally, the Conservative government tabled its Charter of Victims Rights.
The new bill would give victims of crime more access to information regarding the progress of the case including an update on plea bargains, a right to have an up-to-date picture of offenders when they are released, restrictions on where an offender may be able to live once released, and a right for victims of some types of crimes (particularly sex-related) to not have to face the defendant.
It would also change the Evidence Act allowing any witness to be compelled to testify against their own spouse, something currently protected by law.
Although, the bill does seem to enjoy relatively non-partisan acceptance in principal, there are minor criticisms, including how the government will pay for increased costs related to greater obligations of the justice system to include victims in the process.
The Conservatives don’t think this will be a problem.
“I think we’ve found a balance of making sure victims have this effective voice, but not creating additional burdens and complications,” Prime Minister Stephen Harper said.