Justice system needs to pay more attention to victims’ rights, Edmonton police chief says – Edmonton

Alberta’s criminal justice system must pay more attention to the needs and rights of victims, says Edmonton’s police chief.

Rod Knecht made his comments in reaction to a CBC News story published Monday that detailed the cases of two more women incarcerated while testifying against their attackers.

“I think it’s every case on its merit,” Knecht said. “You have to balance all the issues there. But, you know, it’s not a good thing when we’re sort of locking up a victim so they can testify.”

Knecht noted his department has seen a 13.3-per-cent increase in the number of reported sexual assaults in 2017, compared to the same period last year. The chief said with 63 more reported sex assaults this year over last he has added another two investigators to the sex assault unit.

Knecht admitted it’s possible some victims in future may be reluctant to report sexual assaults, based on the experiences of the women highlighted in CBC articles.

“I think it’s something that we have to focus on,” Knecht said about the treatment of victims. “We have to make sure, are there other means to do that other than incarceration.”

On Monday, CBC News told the stories of two women who were jailed while waiting to testify.

In 2013, Starlite was placed in the same courthouse cell block as the man who raped her at knifepoint.  She was 16 at the time.

Starlite was 16 years old when she was jailed and forced to testify against the man who sexually assaulted her. (CBC News )

Two years ago, Susan was taken into custody the night before she testified against the man accused of sexually assaulting and robbing her. She was nearly eight months pregnant when she was forced to spend a sleepless night in the Edmonton Remand Centre before giving evidence.

Sources approached CBC News with those two cases after the story about Angela Cardinal was revealed in June. The homeless, Indigenous woman was jailed for five nights while she testified against the man accused of…

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