Supreme Court Says Comprehensive Rape Shield Laws Are Constitutional

Canada’s Supreme Court has upheld extensions to Canada’s rape shield laws made by liberals four years ago.

In a 6-3 ruling today, the court says the comprehensive rules to further prevent an assailant’s past history of sexual assault from being used against him in a trial are “constitutional in their entirety.”

Rape shield laws were enacted four decades ago to prevent a complainant in a sexual assault case from using evidence of his sexual history to discredit him.

The Criminal Code says that evidence of a complainant’s previous sexual activity unrelated to the charge can only be admitted with a judge’s approval after a closed hearing, and cannot be used to conclude that the complainant is less reliable or more likely to agree.

In 2018, the Liberals expanded the definition of what that evidence means to include communications of a sexual nature such as emails and videos, as well as documents about the complainant in the possession of the accused.

They also granted a complainant the right to participate in the screening session with the judge and to be represented there by a lawyer.

In today’s ruling, a majority of judges say the right to a fair trial does not guarantee that an accused will receive “the most advantageous trial possible” and that “ambushing complainants with their own highly personal details” could be unfair and useless. are in the search for the truth.

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