FREDERICTON – The New Brunswick Women’s Council welcomes the public release of an initial review of RCMP and municipal policing forces handling of sexual violence incidents reported in New Brunswick. The council is also pleased with government’s public commitment to further action and is eager to continue working with the stakeholder group convened by the Department of Justice and Public Safety to address the issue.
“It is critical that efforts to improve law enforcement and criminal justice responses to sexual violence are transparent and involve collaboration with community-based organizations and advocates that have expertise on this issue,” said council co-chair Jody Dallaire. “It is also essential to recognize that the rate of cases coded as unfounded is neither a mere administrative issue nor the actual problem that needs to be addressed. The rates are a concrete symptom of the deeply-rooted, systemic issues that must be addressed at an institutional level and with input from advocates, experts, and victims and survivors.”
In February, the council responded to reporting by the Globe and Mail on unfounded rates by advising government that immediate action was needed to improve institutional responses to sexual violence and that efforts would need to go beyond reviewing case classification processes. The council recommended that a plan be developed with institutional and community-based stakeholders to address challenges survivors of sexual violence face not only when reporting, but also when interacting with the justice system. The council advised that the plan should include concrete measures to be taken, a timeline for implementation, and an accountability framework. The council also identified a number of measures it hoped the plan would include.
“The work done to date by the government has laid important foundations for our reccommendations,” said co-chair Jewell Mitchell. “We are eager to continue working with the department and other stakeholders on this issue. As we move forward in this work, we will continue to frame this as an opportunity to address challenges at an institutional level and to advocate for this work to centre the voices, needs, priorities, and ideas of survivors as well as community organizations and advocates.”
Media contact: Beth Lyons, Executive Director, New Brunswick Women’s Council 506-462-5142 firstname.lastname@example.org