The Ministry of Justice will set up a working group whose mission is to determine the elements necessary for the establishment of such a tribunal.
The creation of this new body was one of the 190 recommendations of the report on support for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, tabled in the National Assembly on December 15.
In theory, a specialized court would better support victims of sexual assault or domestic violence, who often feel aggrieved by the legal process or who immediately give up filing a complaint because they do not trust the justice system. .
“Our government is keen to strengthen public confidence in the justice system, and this requires better support for victims and improving their experience,” said the Minister of Justice, Simon Jolin-Barrette, adding that the establishment of a specialized tribunal is a possible solution that deserves to be studied.
If implemented as planned, the specialized court will provide increased assistance to victims at all stages of the process, before, during and after legal proceedings.
Too small a group
The working group will be made up of representatives from the Ministries of Justice and Public Security, the Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions, the Commission des services juridiques and the Court of Quebec. The lack of community workers who work directly with victims was quickly criticized.
In an interview with The Canadian Press, the spokesperson for the Regroupement des maisons d’hôtes pour femmes victims of conjugal violence, Louise Riendeau, was disappointed. “If we want to be sure that it meets the needs of victims, that we rebuild the confidence of victims, we think that groups like ours should be there,” she argues.
In response to this criticism, Minister Jolin-Barrette indicated that his government does not rule out opening the working group to more representatives, but initially wanted to bring together the actors who work every day in the justice system. .
The Parti Québécois justice spokesperson and member for Joliette Véronique Hivon for her part deplored that the minister did not formally commit to creating the specialized tribunal. “The first step is that the minister really, clearly, adheres to the idea, without red flags,” she said in an interview with The Canadian Press.
Ms. Hivon, member of the committee of elected transpartisan who has been proposing for a year the creation of a specialized tribunal, believes that the time is no longer for studies and it is time to take action.
For the lawyer Sophie Gagnon, Director General of the Juripop organization, the creation of a working group is at least a sign that the report of the expert committee submitted in December will not be tabled.
What will this tribunal look like
We should not expect this specialized tribunal to push back the limits of the rules of law, which would moreover be undesirable, considers Me Gagnon. “Those accused of sexual crimes must benefit from the same protections, the same guarantees as those accused of other types of crime,” she recalls.
Moreover, the success of a possible court specializing in sexual assault and domestic violence should not be judged by the number of convictions, says in turn. Rachel Chagnon, professor in the Department of Legal Sciences at UQAM and member of the Institute for Research and Feminist Studies.
“It is not a question here of condemning more”, she specifies. “The criterion of effectiveness is really to see if the victim has at least had the feeling that she has obtained justice somewhere. “
This is what happened in South Africa and New Zealand, when these two countries created their own specialized tribunal, explains Professor Chagnon. “There is a constant in these two experiences, it is the level of satisfaction of the victims, which is much higher”, she observes.