Legislation to disclose person’s violent past introduced in SK
- EFN Staff | November 10, 2018
Saskatchewan will become the first province in Canada to introduce legislation that allows police to release information about someone’s violent or abusive past to intimate partners who may be at risk. The Interpersonal Violence Disclosure Protocol (Clare’s Law) Act will provide the legislative framework for police services to disclose relevant information to people at risk through the “right to know” process and to applicants through the “right to ask” process.
“We have seen too many cases of interpersonal, domestic and sexual violence in our province,” Justice Minister and Attorney General Don Morgan said in a media release. “If we are able to identify risk and inform those at risk, we hope to help protect people in Saskatchewan from violent and abusive behaviour by a partner.”
“Clare’s Law” was first introduced in the United Kingdom and named in honour of Clare Wood, a woman who was murdered by her partner. She was unaware of his violent past so following her death, Clare’s father advocated for more disclosure by police to protect domestic violence victims.
Last year, Saskatchewan was named the province with the highest rate of domestic violence. An interim report released from the Ministry of Justice stated that six of the 10 communities in Canada that have the highest rates of violence against Indigenous women and girls are in northern Saskatchewan – Indigenous women are three times more likely to be victims of interpersonal violence than non-Indigenous women and five times more likely to be victims of homicide.
Lani Elliott, an advocate for survivors of domestic violence from Regina, said the new legislation is a good initiative to introduce but still questions the process of it.
“They weren’t quite clear on how they are going to roll it out,” said Elliott. “But I think it’s ultimately going to be a good thing.”
Elliott said she often hears of situations where women who are in abusive relationships are warned by their peers of the man who is known to have past violent/abusive behaviours. But sometimes those warnings don’t want to be heard.
“[Some women] don’t want to believe what their being told when other people [tell] them that the individual might be dangerous,” she said. “So maybe, if she receives information from the police to indicate that he does have a past criminal history and has been violent towards past partners, she may think twice about whether or not she wants to remain in a relationship with him. It may make a difference in terms of whether or not she makes the decision to leave the relationship and keep herself safe.”
No date has been confirmed when the legislation will be passed in Saskatchewan.