Quebec adopts new law, plans to roll out tracking bracelets
As part of its efforts to combat violence against women, the Quebec government has passed a bill seeking to create a specialized sexual and domestic violence court and plans to roll out tracking bracelets to protect victims of domestic abuse.
Legislators passed Bill 92
On November 25 the National Assembly of Quebec adopted Bill 92, which will authorize the creation of a specialized court for sexual and domestic violence cases.
The new law, announced in a news release from the Office of the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Quebec, will also allow for the implementation of various measures to ensure that victims of sexual and domestic violence are given support before, during and after the judicial process.
"Today, we are sending a clear message to victims of sexual and domestic violence: you have been heard,” Simon Jolin-Barrette, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Quebec, said in the news release. “Sexual violence and domestic violence have no place in our society, and we no longer want victims in Quebec to hesitate to denounce and file complaints.”
As recommended, the deployment of the specialized court will be carried out in the form of pilot projects in at least five judicial districts for a period of up to three years. These projects will contribute to the development of best practices for the deployment of the permanent specialized court throughout Quebec.
The new law will also provide for the training of all specialized court workers in the needs and realities of victims of sexual and domestic violence.
“The adoption of Bill 92 marks a turning point and a major cultural shift for the justice system in Quebec,” Jolin-Barrette said. “We are becoming the first state in the world to establish a specialized court for both sexual and domestic violence, and we are very proud of that.”
The new law is a response to the report released by the Expert Committee on Support for Victims of Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence in December 2020. It also follows the report of a working group formed by Jolin-Barrette in February 2021, pursuant to his mandate to determine the elements required for the creation of a specialized court for sexual and domestic violence in Quebec.
Security ministry to roll out tracking bracelets for abusers
On December 1, Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault disclosed a plan to distribute tracking bracelets that will be required to be worn by persons accused of domestic violence, according to a CBC report. The tracking bracelets will help keep accused away from the victims.
The tracking system will be made up of two pieces of equipment − the bracelet for the accused, and a notification device for the victim. If the accused enters a "pre-alert" zone, meaning that they are getting closer to the victim, the authorities will advise the accused. If the accused enter an "alert" zone, and is essentially in breach of the conditions, the authorities and the victim will be notified.
The bracelet and notification device can only be used upon the consent of the victim, and the approval of a judge, a provincial detention centre director, or the Commission québécoise des libérations conditionnelles, the provincial parole board.
"It's been years that women demand the [tracking] bracelet. We had to do it the right way. We had to take the time to study it, evaluate it, see what was being done in other countries, and see how we could integrate it into our judicial system," Guilbault said at a press conference.
She added that Quebec will be the only Canadian province to have such system. Sixteen tracking bracelets will be initially rolled out in the Quebec City region in early March 2022, before gradually distributing more across the province.