09 Mar Expanded Supports for Sexual Assault Victims
Victims of sexual assault will now have access to free legal representation to challenge applications to have their past sexual history considered as part of the evidence in criminal court cases.
Nova Scotia will be among the first provinces to respond to a recent federal legislative amendment providing complainants in sexual assault cases with the right to legal representation for hearings under Section 276 of the Criminal Code of Canada, which are applications to have past sexual history considered as evidence.
“We want to ensure that sexual assault victims have the supports they need to protect them from the trauma of having past relationships exposed in court,” said Mark Furey, Minister of Justice. “Access to legal representation is an important step in helping to make the road to justice and recovery easier for the victims and survivors of sexual violence.”
Working with the judiciary, Public Prosecution Service and Nova Scotia Legal Aid, victims seeking representation will be referred to Victim Services when Section 276 applications are filed and lawyers will be assigned. The new service is an expansion of an existing program that provides sexual assault victims with legal representation for applications for medical and therapeutic records.
Survivors of sexual violence are also entitled to up to four hours of free legal advice through the province’s Independent Legal Advice Program.