Victim rights must come first

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The provincial government has introduced legislation that would remove limitations on the time allowed for sexual assault victims to take legal action against offenders.

The move is a great step forward for victims’ rights and for the justice system in general.

If it passes, the legislation will put added pressure on offenders – either deterring crimes from taking place in the first place or making those who commit such heinous offences pay a much heavier price.

For her part, Justice Minister Kathleen Ganley says the change is both needed and overdue.

“By eliminating limitation periods, we are making space for survivors of sexual and domestic violence to come forward when they are ready,” said Ganley. “Bill 2 will improve the lives of these Albertans.”

The legislation will end time limitations on claims related to sexual assault or battery, claims related to any misconduct of a sexual nature other than sexual assault and battery, if, at the time of the misconduct the person with the claim was a minor, was in an intimate relationship with offender, or the victim was dependent, whether financially, emotionally, physically or otherwise, on the offender.

Debra Tomlinson, CEO of the Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services, said, “This change in legislation increases the opportunities for those who have experienced sexual assault to find justice.

“This gives survivors another avenue to seek reparation while holding those who commit sexual assault accountable.”

It’s actually very surprising that limits on the rights of sexual assault victims to seek legal recourse against their attackers still exist in Alberta.

What possible reason could there be for such limitations, which serve only to protect offenders from the full weight of the law?

In this day and age, it is the offender, not the victim, who should be suffering severe consequences.

As such, hopefully this new law will move quickly and smoothly through the legislative process – putting victims first and giving offenders yet more good reason to regret their despicable behaviours.

Dan Singleton is the Mountain View Gazette editor

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Dan Singleton

Dan Singleton is the editor of the Mountain View Gazette who joined the newspaper in 1994. He covers news, municipal politics and community events in Mountain View County. He is also a longtime columnist for other publications of Mountain View Publishing.