Understanding the Victims Bill of Rights

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Have you heard about the Victims Bill of Rights? This law ensures that victims of crime are taken care of at every stage of the criminal process. It is a federal law (Canadian Victims Bill of Rights) with a provincial counterpart.

What is the Victims Bill of Rights (VBR)?

Manitoba’s VBR legislation came into effect in 2001. It clearly describes the rights of victims of most serious crimes. This law ensures that victims are recognized and protected in their dealings with police, prosecutors, courts and corrections officials. It emphasizes their right to be treated with courtesy, compassion and respect. The Victim Rights Support Service provides information and assistance to the victims. Victim services workers brief their clients about the justice system and community resources available to them. They also advise them of their options, rights and responsibilities. They mainly ensure that their clients’ rights are protected.

What does the Victims Bill of Rights provide?

It mainly provides four rights:

  • Information – Victims can ask about the justice system, victim services, and the progress of their case.
  • Participation – Victims can present a victim impact statement and give views on decisions that affect their rights. Impact statements allow victims to tell the court how they have been affected by the crimes. It is a description of the emotional, physical and financial harm that the crime has had on them.
  • Restitution – They can seek recompense for injury or loss. Restitution orders must be considered and can be enforced through civil courts.
  • Protection – Consideration must be made for the security and privacy of victims, as well as the reasonable and necessary protection from intimidation and retaliation. (The Canadian Victims Bill of Rights).

The Victim Rights Support Service helps those who qualify for services by:

  • helping them register for their rights under the VBR
  • explaining when and how they may exercise their rights
  • providing information about prosecution and results of the case against the accused
  • providing court support and information, when possible

If you need help, contact the Victim Rights Support Service and connect with a service worker in your area. Go to their site or contact their toll-free line 1-866-4VICTIM (1-866-484-2846).
Sources: The Victim’s Bill of Rights Overview, Manitoba Justice; Victim Rights Support Service (VRSS); Understanding the Victim’s Bill of Rights; and Canadian Victims Bill of Rights, Canadian Resource Centre for Victims of Crime. Retrieved October 4, 2018.

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