Planned body to review wrongful convictions must be forward-looking, report says

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Published December 9, 2021 at 5:29 pm

OTTAWA — Two former judges who led consultations on creation of an independent commission to review possible wrongful convictions for criminal offences say the new body must be proactive and not simply react to applications from people who want to clear their name.

Harry LaForme, former justice of the Ontario Court of Appeal, and Juanita Westmoreland-Traoré, former judge of the Court of Quebec, conferred with interested parties on the potential structure and mandate of the new commission.

The release of their key findings and recommendations today is the latest step toward fulfilling a commitment in a previous mandate letter for Justice Minister David Lametti to create a body that would make it easier and faster for potentially wrongfully convicted people to have their cases examined.

An executive summary of the report says the existing ministerial system for reviewing cases has been criticized by commissions of inquiry, courts and applicants as reactive. 

The two former judges say the current process has failed to provide remedies for women and Indigenous and Black people in the same proportion as they are represented in Canada’s prisons.

They also say the planned new commission must be systemic in the sense that it should be concerned about both the correction of miscarriages of justice and their prevention.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 9, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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