Section 3 - Legislative Principles
The legislative principles that ought to guide a framework that properly addresses the five identified needs of victims of violent crime are highlighted in this section.
A. Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power
In 1985, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Basic Victim Principles, which remains an international milestone in the history of victim rights. 1 It sets out a code of conduct that prescribes, among other things, that victims "should be treated with compassion and respect for their dignity" and "should receive the necessary material, medical, psychological and social assistance through governmental, voluntary, community-based and indigenous means". 2 Section 12(a) specifically provides:
When compensation is not fully available from the offender or other sources, States should endeavour to provide financial compensation to victims who have sustained significant bodily injury or impairment of physical or mental health as a result of serious crimes.
The United Nations' Handbook on Justice for Victims, a detailed guide advising countries how to apply the Declaration of Basic Victim Principles, reinforces the importance of financial assistance to victims of violent crime:
Crime victim compensation is one of the pillars of victim assistance. For many victims worldwide, it serves as the primary means of financial aid in the aftermath of victimization. [ ] While the physical and psychological impact of crime may be the most obvious and serious toll taken by a crime, the financial impact can also be devastating. 3
B. Canadian Statement of Basic Principles for Victims of Crime 4
In 2003, all the federal, provincial and territorial Ministers of Justice endorsed the Canadian Statement of Basic Principles, which affirms that the "needs, concerns and diversity of victims should be considered in the development and delivery of programs and services, and in related education and training."
C. Victims' Bill of Rights, 1995 ("Victims' Bill of Rights") 5
Ontario proclaimed the Victims' Bill of Rights in 1996. Like the national and international declarations of basic victim principles that preceded it, the Victims' Bill of Rights provides that victims should be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect, and that they should have access to services and information about the prosecution process. The Victims' Bill of Rights also created the Victims' Justice Fund, which is used to "assist victims, whether by supporting programs that provide assistance to victims, by making grants to community agencies assisting victims or otherwise". 6
- M. Cherif Bassiouni, "International Recognition of Victims' Rights" (2006) 6:2 Human Rights Law Review 203 at 278.
- Supra note 2, ss. 4, 14
- United Nations Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Handbook on Justice for Victims (New York: 1999) at 44, online: http://www.uncjin.org/Standards/9857854.pdf.
- Department of Justice (Canada), Canadian Statement of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime, 2003, online: http://www.justice.gc.ca/eng/pi/pcvi-cpcv/pub/03/princ.html.
- S.O. 1995, c. 6.
- Ibid., s. 5(4).