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:
- CFUW Shadow Report: Review of Canada’s Compliance with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (October 2016)
- Non-State Torture Handout (2016)
- Letter of Support for Bill C-242 (2015)
- Watch the first reading of Bill C-242 here
- Read Bill C-242 here
- Listen to the CBC Radio Interview with CFUW members Jeanne Sarson and Linda MacDonald
- CFUW National Letter of Support for Private Member’s Bill C-242, An Act to Amend the Criminal Code of Canada (Inflicting Torture)
- Shadow report to the Committee Against Torture 2012 (CAT)
- Advocacy report from the Committee Against Torture in Geneva (2012)
- CFUW Non-State Actor Torture Handout
- Template letter to MP on Non-State Actor Torture
- See the United Nations Section of the website for CFUW submissions to UN Committees and Commissions.
For more information of the gender specific aspects of NST, see:
- Non-State Torture–Specifically Sexualized Non-State Torture–Inflicted in the Private/Domestic Sphere against Girls/Women: An Emerging “Harmful Practice”
- Torturing by Non-State Actors Invisibilized, A Patriarchal Divide and Spillover Violence from the Military Sphere into the Domestic Sphere
- Report of the Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment to the UN Human Rights Council