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Victims’ rights are human rights

A statement by the Ombudsman on World Human Rights Day

“Stand Up for Human Rights” is this year’s United Nations theme for Human Rights Day with a goal of bolstering transformative action that contributes to creating resilient and just societies.

When the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights was launched in 1948, it was an inspiration to the world.  While it did not specifically mention “victims”, it did set the groundwork with the words “right to life, liberty and security of the person”.

In 1985, the United Nations built upon those words by adopting the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power.  This Declaration called upon governments around the world to secure justice and assistance for victims of crime and victims of abuse of power.

Canada responded to this call for action with varied initiatives from funding victim support groups, the appointment of a Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime to the 2015 passage of Canadian Victims Bill of Rights (CVBR).  While victims’ rights were put into federal law for the first time, the CVBR does not provide a means to enforce them.

This year let’s answer the UN’s call of “Stand Up for Human Rights” by strengthening the CVBR by empowering victims and placing them at the centre of the criminal justice system by:

  • giving victims the opportunity to seek legal and administrative remedies if they believe their rights have been overlooked;
  • requiring the automatic provision of information by criminal justice professionals;
  • guaranteeing support services and assistance for victims;
  • collecting nationally consistent data aligned with the rights enumerated in the Act; and
  • assisting victims with the collection of court-ordered restitution for the losses they have suffered.

On November 25th, I released the Progress Report: The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights. I encourage Canadians to contact their Member of Parliament asking for a Parliamentary review of the CVBR to ensure that victims and survivors will be more than a bystander in the process and will have strengthened provisions of: information, protection, participation and reparation.


Heidi Illingworth,
Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime