Improving the Prevention, Reporting, and Prosecuting of Sexual Assault

Moved by National Women’s Liberal Commission

WHEREAS approximately 460,000 sexual assaults occur in Canada each year;

WHEREAS out of every 1,000, it is estimated that 997 assailants walk free; 12 see charges laid; six are prosecuted, and just three lead to conviction;

WHEREAS the costs are estimated in the billions of dollars: costs to government to meet the needs of victims and offenders through social and criminal justice services; to victims and their families, who are often faced with loss of earnings and out-of-pocket expenses related to their health and well-being; and to employers for decreased productivity and lost revenue;

WHEREAS Regina v. Ghomeshi (2016) elicited widespread concern for how survivors may be cross-examined without appropriate recognition of post sexual assault trauma, and that “the adversarial model presently in place is” structurally ill-suited to deal with sexual assault cases;

WHEREAS the Mandate Letter of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General includes as priorities to "toughen criminal laws and bail conditions in cases of domestic assault" and "undertake modernization efforts to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the criminal justice system"; and,

BE IT RESOLVED that the Liberal Party of Canada call upon the Government of Canada to appoint a panel to consult widely and to recommend how to improve the prevention, reporting, and prosecution of sexual assault by considering a range of changes, such as:

  • improved public, legal, judicial, and police training and education;
  • better support services for survivors;
  • new reporting mechanisms;
  • restorative justice approaches;
  • a requirement that both the accused and the victim testify;
  • specialized sexual assault courts.