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Another Step Closer to the Criminalization of Coercive Control

Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights Tables Recommendations

Canada is another step closer to criminalizing coercive control with the tabling of a unanimous report by the tabling of a unanimous report by the Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights. The Committee and experts agree that the criminalization of coercive control is a critical step to addressing domestic violence. We encourage the government to act on the report’s recommendations and use it as a roadmap for adding coercive control to the criminal code. The report makes five recommendations:

  • That the House of Commons acknowledge the significant harms coercive and controlling behaviour causes in intimate partner relationships, recognize that these harms are not captured in criminal law at present, and further recognize that physical violence in intimate partner relationships is almost always preceded by a pattern of coercive and controlling behaviour.
  • That the Minister of Justice engage with his provincial and territorial counterparts to initiate a taskforce of experts with a mandate to review existing federal criminal legislation using a gender-based analysis plus and other inclusive measures and make recommendations concerning the drafting of government legislation regarding a coercive and controlling behaviour offence in the Criminal Code, considering Bill C-247 as possible language for such an offence, and related measures to meet the needs of victims. This taskforce should report to the Minister within 12 months of formation.
  • That the House of Commons call on the federal government, the provinces and territories to implement measures to combat the challenges presented by the justice system for victims of coercive and controlling behaviour and intimate partner violence, and in particular for women who are Indigenous, racialized, or living in poverty, with the clear objective of avoiding revictimization and unintended capture of victims in the charging process and further calls on the federal government to fund measures to support all victims of coercive and controlling behaviour and intimate partner violence through court processes.
  • That the federal government consider increasing its funding for Canada’s Strategy to Prevent and Address Gender-Based Violence to assist organizations working to support victims of coercive and controlling behaviour to deliver adequate levels of support services, such as counselling, housing, and other services aimed at helping victims in re establishing their lives, and ensure that culturally appropriate services are available and accessible.
  • That the federal government engage with provincial and territorial governments and other relevant stakeholders to promote and fund a public awareness campaign on coercive and controlling behaviour, as well as training of judicial system actors, such as police, lawyers, and judges, about the dynamics of such behaviour. Training must be trauma-informed, integrate intersectional perspectives and be accompanied by tools and policies to support action on this issue.

Read the full report here. We’re grateful to the Committee for their work to recognize the harm caused by coercive controlling behaviours and to better protect those who experience it.

Read our previous post about coercive control here.

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