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Minister MacKay Highlights the Government's Efforts to Combat Sexual Abuse Against Children

CALGARY, ALBERTA -- (Marketwired) -- 02/28/14 -- Justice Canada

Introduction

At an event at the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre in Calgary today, Peter MacKay, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, provided details of the Government's comprehensive legislation to better address the issue of sexual offences committed against children, which further supports the Government of Canada's commitment to stand up for young victims of crime.

These new measures, introduced in the House of Commons on February 26, reflect the Government's commitment in the 2013 Speech from the Throne to re-establish Canada as a country where those who break the law are punished for their actions, where penalties match the severity of crimes committed, and where the most vulnerable victims - children - are better protected.

To support young victims of crime, the Government has already provided $10.25 million for new or enhanced Child Advocacy Centres (CAC), including the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, since 2010. So far, CAC projects have been funded in 20 cities or municipalities across Canada. Teams of professionals at these centres help young victims and witnesses cope with the trauma they have experienced and help them navigate the criminal justice system.

Quick Facts

The proposed new measures include:

--  Requiring those receiving separate sentences at the same time for
    contact child sexual offences against multiple children to serve their
    sentences consecutively - one after another;
--  Requiring those sentenced at the same time for child pornography
    offences and contact child sexual offences to serve their sentences
    consecutively;
--  Increasing maximum and minimum prison sentences for certain child sexual
    offences;
--  Increasing penalties for violation of conditions of supervision orders;
--  Ensuring that a crime committed while on house arrest, parole, statutory
    release or unescorted temporary absence is an aggravating factor at
    sentencing;
--  Ensuring that spousal testimony is available in child pornography cases;
--  Requiring registered sex offenders to provide more information regarding
    travel abroad;
--  Enabling information-sharing on certain registered sex offenders between
    officials responsible for the National Sex Offender Registry and at the
    Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA); and
--  Establishing a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex
    offenders who have been the subject of a public notification in a
    provincial/territorial jurisdiction to assist in ensuring the safety of
    our communities.

Quotes

"With the many personal stories that we hear about and the increasingly important number of lives which are impacted by such abuse, it is clear that something must be done to stop the rise in rates of child sexual abuse in Canada and better protect our children. Through the Tougher Penalties for Child Predators Act our Government is building on the significant work we have already accomplished in collaboration with other important advocates such as the Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre, to fight for the safety and security of children and youth and of our communities for the benefit of all Canadians. We will ensure the justice system is more responsive and effective for our most vulnerable - our children."

Peter MacKay

Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

"These measures represent a positive shift in how we -- as a community-- address child sexual abuse. Not only does this legislation demand tougher judicial outcomes for the perpetrators of theses horrific crimes, but it also keeps the focus where the focus belongs -- on the child victims. I applaud the Minister and Canada for taking steps to better address the full magnitude of sexual crimes against children."

Sheldon Kennedy

Child Advocate and namesake, Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre

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Backgrounder

Associated Links

Sheldon Kennedy Child Advocacy Centre

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Backgrounder

Child Sexual Offenders

Our Government is bringing forward nine new key measures that build on the significant work that has already been done to combat child sexual exploitation and protect Canadians from online crime. The proposed new measures comprise amendments to the Criminal Code, the Canada Evidence Act and the Sex Offender Information Registration Act, and the creation of a High-Risk Child Sex Offender Database. They include:

--  Requiring those convicted of contact child sexual offences against
    multiple children to serve their sentences consecutively - one after
    another;
--  Requiring those convicted of child pornography offences and contact
    child sexual offences to serve their sentences consecutively;
--  Increasing maximum and minimum prison sentences for certain child sexual
    offences;
--  Increasing penalties for violation of conditions of supervision orders;
--  Ensuring that a crime committed while on house arrest, parole, statutory
    release or unescorted temporary absence, is an aggravating factor at
    sentencing;
--  Ensuring that spousal testimony is available in child pornography cases;
--  Requiring registered sex offenders to provide more information when they
    travel abroad;
--  Enabling information-sharing on certain registered sex offenders between
    officials responsible for the National Sex Offender Registry and at the
    Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA); and
--  Establishing a publicly accessible database of high-risk child sex
    offenders who have been the subject of a public notification in a
    provincial/territorial jurisdiction to assist in ensuring the safety of
    our communities.

Since 2006, our Government has taken strong actions to better protect children, including:

--  Putting in place, through the Safe Streets and Communities Act, new
    mandatory prison sentences for seven existing Criminal Code sexual
    offences, including assault, assault with a weapon, and aggravated
    assault (where the child is under

16 years);

--  Making it illegal for anyone to provide sexually explicit material to a
    child for the purpose of facilitating the commission of an offence
    against that child - this process is often referred to as "grooming";
--  Making it illegal to use computers or other means of telecommunications
    to agree with or make arrangements with another person to commit a
    sexual offence against a child;
--  Strengthening the sex offender registry;
--  Increasing the age of protection - the age at which a young person can
    legally consent to sexual activity - from 14 to 16 years of age;
--  Putting in place legislation to make the reporting of child pornography
    by Internet Service Providers mandatory; and
--  Strengthening the sentencing and monitoring of dangerous offenders.

Broader measures that the Government has taken to help young victims of crime include:

--  Providing over $10 million for new or enhanced Child Advocacy Centres
    (CAC) since 2010. So far, CAC projects have been funded in 20 cities or
    municipalities across Canada. Teams of professionals at these centres
    help young victims and witnesses cope with the trauma they've
    experienced and to navigate the criminal justice system;
--  Launching GetCyberSafe.gc.ca, the Government of Canada's public
    awareness website on online safety. The site contains information for
    parents on how to protect their children from people who go online for
    the purpose of exploiting, manipulating or abusing children;
--  Joining the Global Alliance Against Child Sexual Abuse Online in June
    2013. The goal of the Global Alliance is to strengthen international
    efforts to fight Internet predators and child abuse images online. It
    focuses on identifying and helping victims, prosecuting offenders,
    increasing public awareness and reducing the availability of child
    pornography online;
--  Consulting with the public and stakeholders to better understand the
    differing views about which rights should be recognized and protected by
    a federal Victims Bill of Rights. These consultations are critical in
    identifying and recognizing how to better entrench the rights of victims
    into a single law at the federal level, as part of the Government's
    commitment to victims of crime; and,
--  Allocating more than $120 million since 2006 to respond to the needs of
    victims of crime through programs and initiatives delivered by the
    Department of Justice.

Contacts:
Paloma Aguilar
Press Secretary
Office of the Minister of Justice
613-992-4621

Media Relations Office
Department of Justice
613-957-4207

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