On October 26, 2023, Bill S-12, received Royal Assent and became law. The aim of this legislation is to give victims a greater voice in our justice system and to strengthen the National Sex Offender Registry.
The amendments focus on three elements:
Amendments to publication bans to respond to concerns of victims:
These amendments respond to the concerns of victims who have asked for their views to be taken into consideration when seeking publication bans, while at the same time ensuring that publication bans continue to be available to those who want them.
Amendments to victims’ right to information about their case
In response to concerns from victims and stakeholders about the difficulties victims can face when trying to access information through the criminal justice process. The law now:
Victims are entitled to receive ongoing information about the offender who harmed them. This information could include the length of the offender’s sentence and its start date, when an offender might be eligible for parole, release conditions, and appeals of release decisions
Amendments to the National Sex Offender Registry
These legislative amendments respond to the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R.v Ndhlovu by making the following changes to the criteria for automatic registration on the National Sex Offender Registry:
Automatic registration for:
All other offenders are required to register, unless they can demonstrate that they pose no risk to the community.
Addition of new offences for which registration with the National Sex Offender Registry may be required:
The courts can now order registration in additional circumstances, including:
The legislation also ensures aggravated sexual assault against a person under 16 is now explicitly included in the list of offences for registration.