The province will improve its support of women, children and other victims of sexual assault in the criminal justice system.
“What I have heard clearly from women and support groups is that we need to provide better supports for victims of sexual and domestic violence in the criminal justice system,” said Justice Minister and Attorney General Diana Whalen. “Government has invested $6 million in the province’s first Sexual Violence Strategy, but there is more work to do.”
Nova Scotia has also been working on several initiatives to better respond to the needs of victims of sexual assault. Ms. Whalen announced those actions today, March 7. They include:
— hiring two special prosecutors in the Public Prosecution Service to handle sexual assault cases
— seeking to partner with the federal government to provide free, independent legal advice for victims of sexual assault so they can better understand options and navigate through the court system, as well as work with the Public Prosecution Service to provide specialized training for Crown attorneys
— auditing to ensure police have the appropriate capability to investigate sexual assaults
— urging that the criminal justice system’s response to sexual assault complaints are a priority agenda item at the next federal-provincial-territorial meeting of justice ministers and attorneys general
— opening a new Domestic Violence Court in Halifax Regional Municipality, and
–continuing to invest and expand services for survivors of sexual violence.
“Sexual assault complaints must be treated fairly and effectively, with sensitivity, respect and compassion in our system,” said Ms. Whalen. “Nobody should feel deterred from coming forward with a complaint.”