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Government Response to the 2007-2008 Office of the Federal Ombudsman for Victims of Crime Annual Report

Correctional Service of Canada Review

In April 2007, the Minister of Public Safety announced the appointment of an independent panel to review the operations of CSC. The Ombudsman submitted many recommendations to the Review Panel and these concerns were incorporated into their overall report.

CSC is firmly committed to supporting victims of crime and ensuring they have a voice in the federal corrections and conditional release process.

On September 4, 2007, CSC launched the National Victim Services Program. The program represents an enhancement to the level of service CSC staff had already been providing to registered victims of federal offenders, in addition to their other duties.

CSC is also working to ensure that victim services are delivered in a consistent and uniform manner across the country.

Prior to the release of an offender at Warrant Expiry, CSC provides the police with information on the offender’s criminal and incarceration history. The decision to publicly disclose information rests with the local police.

The Correctional Service of Canada continues to maintain a close working relationship with the Ombudsman and other stakeholders.

Internet-facilitated Child Exploitation

In his Report, the Ombudsman highlights the need for legislative reform that would enhance law enforcement abilities to identify victims seen in child sexual abuse images found online. The Ombudsman also recommends that the Minister of Public Safety introduce legislation requiring internet service providers to provide customer name and address information to law enforcement agencies.

Customer Name and Address

As the issue of customer name and address information falls under the responsibility of the Minister of Public Safety, I will ensure that the Minister of Public Safety is made aware of your concerns and that solutions be explored.

In consultation with law enforcement and industry, government officials are examining how best to address this serious issue, including the possibility of legislation in this area. The Government is committed to striking the right balance between protecting public safety while respecting Canadians' right to privacy.

Mandatory Reporting of Child Pornography and Subscriber Information

In the annual report, the Ombudsman raises issues regarding the role of Internet service providers (ISPs) in the re¬victimization of children and the ability of law enforcement to get timely cooperation from ISPs in relation to subscriber information when investigating child sexual exploitation cases.

In relation to preventing the re¬victimization of children on the Internet, the Department of Justice has worked in partnership with the Department of Public Safety, law enforcement, other levels of government and the private sector to find practical solutions to this problem. As part of the National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet launched in 2004, the Department of Public Safety provides a contribution to the Canadian Center for Child Protection, a non¬governmental organization that manages Cybertip.ca, to act as Canada's national tip¬line for the public to report suspected cases of child sexual exploitation on the Internet.

Cybertip.ca manages Cleanfeed Canada, a project aimed at blocking access by all customers to websites containing child pornography. The list is administered by Cybertip.ca, who, when made aware of a website containing child sexual exploitation, adds the website's address to a list. ISPs who participate in the initiative access the list twice a day and block customer access to these websites. It has been adopted by most of Canada's major ISPs. In fact, almost 90 percent of all Canadian Internet subscribers are covered by the Cleanfeed Canada program, which blocks all known child pornography websites.
The Canadian Coalition against Internet Child Exploitation (CCAICE), which is a coalition of the major service providers in Canada and in government and law enforcement, is attempting to expand the Cleanfeed Canada program to those ISPs that currently do not participate.

These measures are also complemented by additional federal funding in the amount of $6 million per year that was committed in Budget 2007 and allocated in January 2008 to strengthen current activities to combat the sexual exploitation and trafficking of children including to:

  • enhance the capacity of the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre (NCECC) for law enforcement and training, as part of its ongoing efforts under the federal Government's National Strategy for the Protection of Children from Sexual Exploitation on the Internet;
  • enhance the capacity of the NCECC for law enforcement and training;
  • provide increased resources for Cybertip.ca, including public education;
  • reinforce law enforcementcapacity to combar the trafficking of children;
  • provide for public education, awareness and outreach to combat trafficking of children;
  • work with the Canadian Association of Crime Stoppers to launch a national campaign on human trafficking and provide for a central point to report potential cases of trafficking in persons (launched January 15, 2009); and
  • conduct research to assess the impact of trafficking and sexual exploitation of children and the impact on aboriginal statis affect their propensity to be victimized.

Recently, the five¬year review for the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act (PIPEDA), an Act under the responsibility of the Minister of Industry, was completed. There are a number of recommendations which were made by the two reviewing committees. The Government has indicated, in its response to the Committee report tabled in Parliament on October 17, 2007, that it will be seeking to implement a number of recommendations from this review, including a clarification of the requirements in PIPEDA that have been misinterpreted and created unintentional barriers to appropriate disclosure of information to law enforcement. In addition, it may be of interest to note that police across Canada have been using a letter of request for subscriber information with considerable success. The letter, developed by CCAICE, which requests subscriber information or IP information in relation to child sexual exploitation cases, has also been upheld in a number of recent court decisions. However, some of these decisions are currently being appealed.

Restitution of Victims of Crime

Improving the Effectiveness of Restitution Orders

The Ombudsman's report requests that the Government review options for improving the effectiveness of restitution orders so that more offenders may be held accountable to more victims.

The Criminal Code permits a sentencing judge to order an offender to pay restitution to a victim to cover losses associated with the commission of an offence in certain defined circumstances. It is a discretionary sentence which is made in addition to another sentence. Increasing victim satisfaction with restitution orders requires that the orders be imposed in appropriate cases and that the issues regarding enforcement be addressed.

The Government of Canada is committed to helping victims navigate and deal throughout their participation with the criminal justice system including through the appropriate use of restitution orders. We recognize that the process of enforcing restitution orders through civil court can be onerous for victims. As a result, we are working with our FPT colleagues to explore options for improving enforcement of restitution orders, including pilot projects designed to improve enforcement of restitution orders. The Victims Fund is also available to jurisdictions wishing to develop or enhance enforcement schemes or to pursue other options for improving victim satisfaction with restitution.

A Special Working Group on Restitution has been mandated to explore the current law and practice regarding restitution as a criminal sentence; develop options to encourage its use in appropriate cases; and ways of improving the enforcement of restitution orders.

The Ombudsman's report also refers to the need for members of the judiciary to become better informed about the challenges faced by victims of crime and the importance of both restitution and victim fine surcharges. In April 2008, the PCVI hosted a meeting of a subcommittee of the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Justices, which included a discussion of restitution and victim fine surcharge and sought the views of provincial court judges on improving the effectiveness of both.

National Sex Offender Registry

The Government of Canada is committed to enhancing public safety and security by strengthening the National Sex Offender Registry (NSOR).

A working group of FPT officials has been undertaking a review of the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, which was initiated following a request from the former Minister of Public Safety and, subsequently, has been a priority for the current Minister of Public Safety, in keeping with the Government's election platform.

Consultation has been undertaken with the provinces/territories, and we will continue to work with our provincial and territorial partners, as they are partners in the administration and enforcement of the NSOR.

The Government of Canada is determined to strengthen the NSOR so that it enhances public safety and becomes a more effective tool for police. We will move forward once consultations are complete.