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Safer Witnesses Act (S.C. 2013, c. 29)

Assented to 2013-06-26

Safer Witnesses Act

S.C. 2013, c. 29

Assented to 2013-06-26

An Act to amend the Witness Protection Program Act and to make a consequential amendment to another Act

SUMMARY

This enactment amends the Witness Protection Program Act to, among other things,

  • (a) provide for the designation of a provincial or municipal witness protection program so that certain provisions of that Act apply to such a program;

  • (b) authorize the Commissioner of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to coordinate, at the request of an official of a designated provincial or municipal program, the activities of federal departments, agencies and services in order to facilitate a change of identity for persons admitted to the designated program;

  • (c) add prohibitions on the disclosure of information relating to persons admitted to designated provincial and municipal programs, to the means and methods by which witnesses are protected and to persons who provide or assist in providing protection;

  • (d) specify the circumstances under which disclosure of protected information is nevertheless permitted;

  • (e) exempt a person from any liability or other punishment for stating that they do not provide or assist in providing protection to witnesses or that they do not know that a person is protected under a witness protection program;

  • (f) expand the categories of witnesses who may be admitted to the federal Witness Protection Program to include persons who assist federal departments, agencies or services that have a national security, national defence or public safety mandate and who may require protection as a result;

  • (g) allow witnesses in the federal Witness Protection Program to end their protection voluntarily;

  • (h) extend the period during which protection may, in an emergency, be provided to a person who has not been admitted to the federal Witness Protection Program; and

  • (i) make a consequential amendment to another Act.

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

SHORT TITLE

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Safer Witnesses Act.

1996, c. 15WITNESS PROTECTION PROGRAM ACT

 The long title of the Witness Protection Program Act is replaced by the following:

An Act respecting the establishment and operation of a federal program for the protection of certain persons providing information or assistance and respecting the protection of persons admitted to certain provincial or municipal protection programs
  •  (1) The definition “protection” in section 2 of the Act is replaced by the following:

    “protection”

    « protection »

    “protection” may include relocation, accommodation and change of identity as well as counselling and financial support for those or any other purposes in order to ensure the security of a person or to facilitate the person’s re-establishment or becoming self-sufficient;

  • (2) The definitions bénéficiaire and programme in section 2 of the French version of the Act are replaced by the following:

    « bénéficiaire »

    “protectee”

    bénéficiaire Personne jouissant de la protection du Programme.

    « Programme »

    “Program”

    Programme Le Programme de protection des témoins instauré par l’article 4.

  • (3) The definition “witness” in section 2 of the Act is amended by striking out “or” at the end of paragraph (a) and by replacing paragraph (b) with the following:

    • (b) a person who has assisted or has agreed to assist a federal security, defence or safety organization and who may require protection because of a risk to his or her security arising in relation to the assistance, or

    • (c) a person who, because of their relationship to or association with a person referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), may also require protection for the reasons referred to in that paragraph.

  • (4) Section 2 of the Act is amended by adding the following in alphabetical order:

    “designated program”

    « programme désigné »

    “designated program” means a provincial or municipal program that is set out in the schedule;

    “designated program protectee”

    « bénéficiaire d’un programme désigné »

    “designated program protectee” means a person who is receiving protection under a designated program;

    “federal security, defence or safety organization”

    « organisation fédérale de sécurité ou de défense »

    “federal security, defence or safety organization” means a federal department, agency or service that has a mandate relating to national security, national defence or public safety matters;

    “protected person”

    « personne protégée »

    “protected person” means a current or former protectee or a current or former designated program protectee;

    “provincial official”

    « fonctionnaire provincial »

    “provincial official” means, with respect to a designated program, the official designated under subsection 10.1(2) or (3);

    “substantial harm”

    « préjudice sérieux »

    “substantial harm” means any injury, whether physical or psychological, that interferes in a substantial way with a person’s health or well-being;

 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 2:

HER MAJESTY

Marginal note:Binding on Her Majesty

2.1 This Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province.

Marginal note:2000, c. 24, s. 71

 Section 3 of the Act is replaced by the following:

Marginal note:Protection of persons

3. The purpose of this Act is to promote law enforcement, national security, national defence and public safety by facilitating the protection of persons

  • (a) who are involved directly or indirectly in providing assistance in law enforcement matters in relation to

    • (i) activities conducted by the Force, other than activities arising under an arrangement entered into under section 20 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, or

    • (ii) activities conducted by any law enforcement agency or international criminal court or tribunal in respect of which an agreement or arrangement has been entered into under section 14;

  • (b) who are involved directly or indirectly in providing assistance to a federal security, defence or safety organization; or

  • (c) who have been admitted to a designated program.

Marginal note:2000, c. 24, s. 72
  •  (1) The portion of subsection 6(1) of the Act before paragraph (b) is replaced by the following:

    Marginal note:Admission to Program
    • 6. (1) A witness shall not be admitted to the Program unless

      • (a) a recommendation for the admission has been made by a law enforcement agency, a federal security, defence or safety organization or an international criminal court or tribunal;

  • (2) Subsection 6(2) of the Act is replaced by the following:

    • Marginal note:Emergency situations

      (2) Despite subsection (1), the Commissioner may, in a case of emergency, and for a period of not more than 90 days, provide protection to a person who has not entered into a protection agreement. The Commissioner may, if the emergency persists, provide protection for one additional period of not more than 90 days.

  •  (1) The portion of section 7 of the English version of the Act before paragraph (a) is replaced by the following:

    Marginal note:Factors to be considered

    7. The Commissioner shall consider the following factors in determining whether a witness should be admitted to the Program:

  • (2) Paragraphs 7(c) and (d) of the Act are replaced by the following:

    • (c) the nature of the inquiry, investigation or prosecution involving the witness — or the nature of the assistance given or agreed to be given by the witness to a federal security, defence or safety organization — and the importance of the witness in the matter;

    • (d) the value of the witness’s participation or of the information, evidence or assistance given or agreed to be given by the witness;

 Subparagraph 8(b)(i) of the Act is replaced by the following:

  • (i) to give the information or evidence or participate as required in relation to the inquiry, investigation or prosecution — or to give to the federal security, defence or safety organization the assistance — in respect of which protection is provided under the agreement,

 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 8:

Marginal note:Request for termination of protection
  • 8.1 (1) A protectee may request that the Commissioner terminate the protection provided to the protectee.

  • Marginal note:Termination

    (2) The Commissioner shall meet in person with the protectee to discuss their request and shall terminate the protection provided to them if, either at the meeting or afterwards, they confirm their request in the form and manner that the Commissioner considers appropriate in the circumstances.

  • Marginal note:Effective day

    (3) The termination takes effect on the day on which the request is confirmed or on a later day that the protectee may specify.

Marginal note:2000, c. 24, s. 73

 Paragraph 10(a) of the Act is replaced by the following:

  • (a) to refuse to admit a witness to the Program, the Commissioner shall provide the body that recommended the admission or, in the case of a witness recommended by the Force, the witness, with written reasons to enable the body or witness to understand the basis for the decision; or

 The Act is amended by adding the following after section 10:

DESIGNATED PROGRAMS

Marginal note:Designation — program
  • 10.1 (1) At the request of a provincial minister who is responsible for a provincial or municipal program that facilitates the protection of witnesses and on the Minister’s recommendation, the Governor in Council may, by regulation, designate the program by adding its name to the schedule.

  • Marginal note:Designation — provincial official

    (2) In his or her request, the provincial minister shall designate an official of the applicable province or municipality to be the program’s provincial official.

  • Marginal note:Change of provincial official

    (3) The provincial minister may replace the provincial official by designating another official of the applicable province or municipality and shall notify the Minister without delay of any such replacement.

Marginal note:Deletion from schedule

10.2 On the Minister’s recommendation, the Governor in Council may, by regulation, delete the name of a program from the schedule.

Marginal note:Coordination — change of identity
  • 10.3 (1) At a provincial official’s request, the Commissioner shall coordinate the activities of federal departments, agencies and services in order to facilitate a change of identity for a designated program protectee.

  • Marginal note:Required information

    (2) The provincial official shall provide any information that the Commissioner requires for the purpose of subsection (1).

 
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