JUST Committee News Release
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Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights
Comité permanent de la justice et des droits de la personne
For immediate release
Justice Committee Presents a Unanimous Report on Coercive and Controlling Behaviour in the Context of Domestic Violence
Ottawa, April 27, 2021 -
Today, the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights presented a unanimous report calling for additional actions to prevent domestic violence and coercive and controlling behaviour and increase support and protection for victims. The committee felt compelled to study this serious problem that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Such violence harms primarily women and children and costs our society billions of dollars every year.
Entitled The Shadow Pandemic: Stopping Coercive and Controlling Behaviour in Intimate Relationships, the report is intended to raise the profile of this serious matter often referred to as a "shadow pandemic" and to propose solutions to prevent such violence and better support victims every step of the way.
The report is based on testimony from survivors of domestic violence, experts and stakeholders from across the country. The committee also reviewed the experience of foreign jurisdictions where reforms have been implemented to recognize coercive and controlling behaviour in their criminal law systems.
The report highlights several areas which the committee believes require additional actions by all levels of government. Key recommendations include:
• Creating a taskforce of experts with a mandate to review existing federal criminal legislation applying GBA+ and other inclusive measures, consider the approach taken in Bill C-247, and make recommendations concerning the drafting of government legislation regarding adding a coercive and controlling behaviour offence in the Criminal Code.
• Implementing measures to combat the challenges presented by the justice system for victims of coercive and controlling behaviour in the context of domestic violence, with the clear objective of avoiding revictimization and unintended capture of victims in the charging process.
• Funding a public awareness campaign, training for judicial system actors and measures to support victims of domestic violence and coercive and controlling behaviour, including during court processes.
“Recently, Parliament held a take note debate to shed light on the tragedy that is intimate partner violence in Canada. As women lose their lives to this heinous crime, I'm proud of this committee for working together constructively to propose concrete solutions in addressing this shadow pandemic, assisting survivors and preventing such violence from happening in the first place.”
- Ms. Iqra Khalid, Chair of the committee
“Throughout the Committee's study we heard from Canadians who have raised the alarm on the rise of intimate partner violence over the past year through the pandemic. It's critical for Parliament to act and better protect survivors while punishing perpetrators.”
- Rob Moore, Vice-Chair of the committee
“Violence between spouses takes multiple, pernicious forms. While it may not always leave visible marks, it marks for life the couples and the children who experience it. With months and months of lockdowns, this behaviour is on the rise and too often leads to unacceptable, shameful acts with serious consequences. It’s time to put an end to these harmful situations that devastate too many families. Let’s hope this Parliament will quickly address the issue and pass the necessary legislation in short order. This simply cannot go on.”
- Mr. Rhéal Éloi Fortin, Vice-Chair of the committee
“Today marks a historic agreement among all parties that there is an urgent need to do more to address the high levels of intimate partner violence that persist in Canada. We heard from survivors, front line service providers and police alike that adding coercive and controlling behaviour to the Criminal Code will provide an important tool that will allow earlier intervention in problematic relationships and help avoid even greater violence.”
- Mr. Randall Garrison, member of the committee
A copy of the report may be obtained from the committee’s website
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