Re: Bill C-242: An Act to Amend the Criminal Code (Inflicting Torture)
Dear BC Members of Parliament,
I am writing to you on behalf of First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition to urge you to support Bill C-242, a Private Member’s Bill that would amend the Criminal Code (Inflicting Torture).
First Call coalition member, the Canadian Federation of University Women, has been pursuing the addition of non-state torture to the Criminal Code since 2011. This bill is particularly important to First Call’s mission to put BC’s children and youth first given that women and girls are disproportionately affected by extreme forms of violence such as torture inflicted in the private realm.
The present legislation on torture (CC 269.1) only recognizes torture inflicted by a state official or someone acting with the consent and acquiescence of such an official. Acts of torture carried out by private individuals are not punishable under this section of the Criminal Code, and are instead considered aggravated assault – a crime that carries a maximum sentence of just 14 years. We live in a day and age where states are not the only perpetrators of extreme violence and terror. We must amend our laws to keep up with changing times; and to adequately recognize both the ordeals of victims and the crimes of the perpetrators.
The UN Committee against Torture has called on states to recognize and address acts of torture that are carried out in the private realm. This amendment to the Criminal Code would reflect Canada’s commitment to the United Nations human rights instruments, which we have ratified.
We strongly urge you to support Bill C-242. Thank you for your time and consideration.
Adrienne Montani, Provincial Coordinator
First Call: BC Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition