Thursday, September 15, 2011

New Canadian Report on Wrongful Convictions

The Federal/Provincial/Territorial Heads of Prosecutions Committee today released its new report on wrongful convictions entitled The Path to Justice: Preventing Wrongful Convictions.

It was written by a committee of senior prosecutors and police officers and is follow-up to a 2005 report entitled "Prevention of Miscarriages of Justice":
"The format of this update mirrors the original report: it provides a summary of developments in the law and reports on efforts to implement the 2005 recommendations. Those recommendations are re-examined in light of events over the past six years and, where appropriate, modifications are suggested. It also highlights international developments since 2005 and summarizes the key findings of Canadian commissions of inquiry held since the 2005 Report."

"The update canvasses the latest information on the most important causes of wrongful convictions, as described in the 2005 Report, including tunnel vision; eyewitness mis-identification; false confessions; use of in-custody informers; and inappropriate use of forensic evidence and expert testimony. Each of these issues is discussed in the context of what has been learned since 2005, through research and commissions of inquiry, for example."

(...)

"As set out in Chapter 10, there has been a phenomenal level of educational activity among police and prosecutors about the causes of wrongful convictions. Today there is a higher level of awareness than ever before among Canadian police and prosecutors about the causes of wrongful convictions and what can be done to prevent them, as the issue of wrongful convictions has achieved an unprecedented prominence in discussions at the highest level of police and prosecution organizations. Education about the phenomenon of miscarriages of justice is now a staple of training for rookie and senior officers and prosecutors alike."

"There is now a wealth of resources available to police and prosecutors on wrongful convictions. For example, a select list of Web sites is attached at Appendix A. Through this Subcommittee and its expert members, it is now clear that Canadian police, prosecutors and even the judiciary know where to turn for information and expertise on wrongful convictions."

"That said, of great concern is that in this era of fiscal restraint and new pressures on the justice system, there is a danger that this promising new level of activity will inevitably diminish. Thus the central message of this report must be the need for continued vigilance."

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posted by Michel-Adrien at 7:32 pm

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