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e-4192 (Justice)

Initiated by Kelly Favro from Victoria, British Columbia

Original language of petition: English

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • Prosecutors may request a publication ban to protect a victim-complainant of a sexual offence under Criminal Code section 486.4;
  • Prosecutors typically do not advise nor request consent of victim-complainants before a ban is placed on their identity;
  • The Court has no discretion, meaning the ban is immediately implemented;
  • The law does not oblige the Court or prosecutor to inform a victim-complainant that a ban has been placed on their identity, resulting in many being unaware a ban is in force or of the legal repercussions and penalties for breaching it (maximum $5,000 fine and two years in custody);
  • This concerns the informed choice and consent of victim-complainants;
  • These restrictions, when unwanted, are paternalistic and prevent a victim-complainant from exercising freedom of expression, and reinforce shame and the notion that anonymity always equals protection; and
  • Unwanted publication bans can give the impression that abusers are protected and benefit from the restrictions on the victim-complainants as they prevent open communication about the offense and harm experienced.
We, the undersigned, residents and citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to :
1. Allow victim-complainants to attribute their own experience of sexual offences without being charged;
2. Grant adult victim-complainants of sexual offences a choice in the application of a 486.4 publication ban;
3. Produce comprehensive, accessible, multi-lingual, and public information about 486.4 publication bans on government websites;
4. Simplify the process to lift a ban at any time before, during, or after court proceedings without the services of a lawyer; and
5. Allow victim-complainants to opt out of a 486.4 ban on the Victim Impact Statement form.

Response by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Parliamentary Secretary Gary Anandasangaree

Publication bans aim to protect the identity of victims and encourage the reporting of offences that may otherwise go unreported, such as sexual offences. Some victims want to protect their identity. Others want to tell their story. It should be their choice.

Healing looks different for every victim and survivor. It is a priority for the Government to ensure that in every case, victims are treated with dignity and respect in the criminal justice process.

On April 26, 2023, the Government introduced Bill S-12, An Act to amend the Criminal Code, the Sex Offender Information Registration Act and the International Transfer of Offenders Act, in the Senate. The proposed reforms aim to empower victims by improving the law related to publication bans, achieving greater respect of victims' right to information, and ensuring that there are no gaps in the law regarding sex crimes and the National Sex Offender Registry.

This bill gives victims greater agency in whether a publication ban is ordered, and gives survivors a clearer pathway to modify or lift a ban. Specifically, the proposed reforms to the publication ban provisions would require prosecutors to take reasonable steps to consult with victims before seeking a publication ban, and would clarify the mechanism for revoking and amending a publication ban so that victims have a better understanding and an effective access to this process. These changes would give a greater voice to survivors of sexual assault and respect their personal choice. Bill S-12 would continue to offer the protections of a publication ban for those who want them, without silencing those who wish to speak out.

Open for signature
November 10, 2022, at 9:29 a.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
March 10, 2023, at 9:29 a.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Laurel Collins (Victoria)
May 3, 2023 (Petition No. 441-01412)
Government response tabled
June 16, 2023
Photo - Laurel Collins
New Democratic Party Caucus
British Columbia