Non-state Actor Torture

Torture is one of the worst and most destructive of all human rights violations, which continues to take place in the private sphere in Canada and around the world. Women and girls are most often effected. We believe that this heinous form of violence against women, known as non-state actor torture must be recognized as a distinct and specific criminal offense. Presently, the Criminal Code of Canada includes provisions for the criminalization of state torture, yet private individuals or organizations (parents, spouses, guardians, strangers, organized gangs, or other groups) who commit the same offences are charged with aggravated assault, forced confinement etc., and not torture. The failure to name the actual crime minimizes and trivializes these offences. It also impairs our ability as a country to collect accurate statistics on the occurrence of this crime. As a result, CFUW is actively calling on the Government of Canada to alter the Criminal Code of Canada.

On February 26 London MP Peter Fragiskatos introduced Bill C-242, a Private Member’s Bill to amend the Criminal Code of Canada (inflicting torture). The bill would identify torture perpetrated by private individuals, acting of their own volition and outside state authority, and make it punishable under section 269.1. Currently, acts that would be considered torture by non-state actors is typically considered aggravated assault, and carries incommensurate sentences. CFUW has actively supported the addition of non-state torture to the Criminal Code since 2011, and two CFUW members, Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald, have advocated tirelessly for its formation. CFUW National worked with Mr. Fragiskatos’ team and sent a letter of support and will continue to follow its development.

See some of our actions & resources:

For more information of the gender specific aspects of NST, see:

Scroll to Top