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The laying or maintaining of criminal charges is subject to oversight by government
prosecution services/Crown prosecutors. For certain types of crimes carrying significant public
stigma, such as terrorism and hate propaganda offences, the Criminal Code specifically requires, as an additional safeguard, the consent of the relevant Attorney General. Crown prosecutors in Canada are tasked with ensuring that criminal charges do not proceed unless there is a reasonable prospect for conviction and are subject to ethical, procedural and constitutional obligations. They
are expected to discharge their duties with fairness, objectivity, and integrity.
Access to justice
Access to justice is an important aspect of the protection of human rights. This access is
enhanced in Canada by a number of measures that are available in the Canadian legal system, including redress through the courts, human rights commissions and administrative tribunals for violations of human rights (see Part II of this report), as well as the provision of civil and criminal legal aid.
Public awareness of human rights and legal aid programmes also enhances the ability of
individuals to seek protection of their rights through the Canadian legal system. Public
awareness campaigns making use of posters, pamphlets and other publications, call centres and Internet sites are used at both the federal and provincial/territorial levels to disseminate information on both domestic and international laws governing the rights of persons in Canada.
While the administration of justice, and therefore the provision of legal aid, is a provincial
constitutional responsibility, the federal, provincial and territorial governments work in close collaboration to ensure a strong and efficient justice system in Canada. Generally speaking, the Government of Canada contributes financial resources for criminal and civil legal aid to provincial and territorial governments through either contribution agreements or a block-transfer
mechanism and these governments determine eligibility rules as well as the nature and scope of legal aid available to individuals in their jurisdictions.
In Canada, sentences of two years or more are served in federal penitentiaries and are
administered pursuant to the provisions of the federal Corrections and Conditional Release Act (CCRA). Sentences of less than two years are served in provincial prisons. The federal CCRA and Prisons and Reformatories Act regulate some aspects of provincial corrections and the release of offenders from provincial prisons. In addition, each province has its own legislation for the management of its correctional facilities.
The correctional services administrative agencies contribute to the maintenance of a just,
peaceful and safe society by administering sentences through the safe and humane custody and supervision of offenders and assist their rehabilitation and reintegration into the community as law-abiding citizens, through the provision of programs in the correctional facilities and in the
Independent oversight mechanisms in Canada investigate and bring resolution to individual
offender complaints. Provincial Ombudsmen (and federally, Correctional Investigators mandated
as Ombudsmen) investigate and make recommendations flowing from individual complaints.
The National Parole Board is an independent administrative tribunal that has exclusive
authority under the Corrections and Conditional Release Act for conditional release. The NPB may also order certain offenders to be held in prison until the end of their sentence. In addition,