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New law empowers victims of crime

The House of Commons built on key Senate changes to improve Bill S-12.

Legislation to strengthen the effectiveness of the National Sex Offender Registry, and to make the criminal justice system more responsive to the needs of victims, has received Royal Assent after being adopted in the Senate.

Bill S-12 was introduced in the Senate in April 2023  in response to a Supreme Court of Canada decision that required laws governing automatic registration and mandatory lifetime orders under the registry to be updated and clarified.

Senator Bev Busson, a former RCMP commissioner who sponsored the legislation in the Senate, said the legislation is also meant to empower victims and survivors of crime by changing the rules governing publication bans and a victim’s right to information.

The Standing Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs proposed several changes after hearing “the impassioned testimony of witnesses” who emphasized that “we must do better in listening to what victims and survivors of crime are advocating for,” Senator Busson said.

“These amendments build on the bill’s proposals that sought to ensure that victims were more directly involved in decisions concerning the imposition of a publication ban and any subsequent variation or revocation,” she said. “In addition, the bill responds to concerns around victims being unable to share their stories with their loved ones.”

In turn, the House of Commons built on the Senate’s work, accepting six amendments, modifying five others and disagreeing with one. It also added one coordinating amendment.

The bill received Royal Assent on October 26, after the Senate concurred with the modifications made in the House of Commons.

New law empowers victims of crime