And a big ‘Atta-boy to Steve Sullivan!

Crime victim ombud appointed

Janice Tibbetts, CanWest News Service

Published: Monday, April 23, 2007

OTTAWA – The Conservative government has appointed a longtime victims’ advocate as the first federal ombudsman for victims of crime, a national office that will look out for the their interests in the justice system.

Steve Sullivan, who has been president of the National Resource Centre for Victims of Crime for nine, years, will oversee the new victims’ initiative for a three-year term.

“The ombudsman will promote the concerns of victims, and ensure that victims can gain access to federal services and programs,” Justice Minister Rob Nicholson said Monday in a speech marking National Victims of Crime Awareness Week.

“I believe it is entirely appropriate that our justice system evolve to better meet the needs of victims.”

Federal prisoners already have a federally appointed ombudsman to vet their complaints, but crime victims have not had a similar advocate.

The appointment of a victim’s ombudsman was a Conservative federal election promise.

The new ombudsman’s office is part of the government’s $52-million commitment over four years to increase services for crime victims.

“For example, the money will help expand the resources available to victims who choose to attend parole hearings, it will help to offset the costs of traveling to sentencing hearings, and it will improve the availability of victims’ services in the North,” Nicholson said.

He noted that Sullivan has done extensive research on victim related issues including access to information for families of unsolved homicide and victims of terrorism. He has also conducted training sessions on victims for staff at the National Parole Board and Correctional Service of Canada.

The ombudsman will be responsible for helping victims tap into existing federal programs for crime victims, promote the needs of victims within the justice system and government, review complaints and identify emerging victims’ issues.

The ombudsman can also issue reports, along with recommendations, to the ministers of justice or public safety, and request a government response.

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