(Yellowknife, NWT – Press Release – May 18, 2022) – The Public Prosecution Service (PPSC) has created a team in the Northwest Territories (NWT) office to develop approaches to sexual assault prosecutions to respond to what we heard from the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls National Inquiry about the experience of victims and witnesses.
The team will be staffed with two senior prosecutors who know first-hand the realities of criminal justice in the NWT after working for many years in the PPSC NWT office. They have extensive experience working with victims and witnesses who have suffered or observed sexual violence. The PPSC recognizes that the criminal justice system must be made to serve the needs of those coming before the courts in a way that allows them the ability to share their experiences in a supported, dignified and effective way.
“ It is painful to recount what has been experienced or witnessed during a sexual assault. The court process should recognize how difficult that is and try to help them share their experiences with judges and juries who must consider the cases, ” said Annie Piché, General Counsel. “ We will focus on respectfully listening, communicating, and informing all witnesses and reaching out to communities. ”
The team will oversee all cases related to sexual assault, including providing assistance to other prosecutors with case preparation, prosecution strategies, and sentencing recommendations. They will also assist and oversee Crown Witness Coordinators in working with victims of and witnesses to sexual assault. As well, they will reach out and work with community leaders to address the issue of sexual violence in the Northwest Territories.
“ This new team will help all of the lawyers and Crown Witness Coordinators to ensure courts can hear the voices of those affected by sexual violence, ” said Alex Godfrey, Chief Federal Prosecutor of the NWTRO.
The PPSC will be considering how the approaches developed in the Northwest Territories may help us in supporting victims and witnesses in Yukon and Nunavut.
The Public Prosecution Service of Canada is a national organization responsible for prosecuting offences under federal jurisdiction in a manner that is free of any improper influence and that respects the public interest. The PPSC is also responsible for providing prosecution-related advice to law enforcement agencies across Canada.
Northern Territory police minister Kate Worden, who is also the minister for domestic violence, said it had been a ‘heartbreaking week’ after two DV incidents. Photograph: Aaron Bunch/AAP
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