Supreme Court Ensures that the Voice of Women with Disabilities Will Be Heard by Courts

For Immediate Release


February 10, 2012


Today the Supreme Court of Canada decided that people with intellectual disabilities should be allowed to testify in court.  Specifically, the question before the Court was whether people with intellectual disabilities are required to demonstrate an understanding of the concept of a “promise to tell the truth” in order to be permitted to testify.


“CCD is pleased that today’s decision refutes a negative stereotype about the truthfulness of people with disabilities,” states Jim Derksen, a CCD Human Rights Committee Member.


The Council of Canadians with Disabilities (CCD) had intervener status in this case. The CCD argued that courts should not impose a test to allow people with disabilities to testify that is not imposed on others. Courts should focus scrutiny on the testimony given by individuals, not the individuals themselves. The CCD is an organization of people with disabilities working for an accessible and inclusive Canada.


The DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada (DAWN-RAFH Canada) together with L.E.A.F. (the Women’s Legal and Education Action Fund) were also interveners in this landmark case for women with disabilities.  “The decision ensures that the voice of women with disabilities will be heard - the Supreme Court has recognized the barriers we face and sent a message through the criminal justice system – this is a huge victory for women and girls with disabilities in Canada” stated Carmela Hutchison, President of DAWN-RAFH Canada.


The Supreme Court’s decision in the DAI case upholds that all persons, regardless of disability, will have their day in court when their rights have been violated.


CCD views this case as a victory because it removes a significant barrier preventing access to justice by people with disabilities.








Jim Derksen, Human Rights Committee, CCD —204-786-7937

Carmela Hutchison, President, DAWN-RAFH Canada - 403-935-4218

Bonnie Brayton, National Executive Director, DAWN-RAFH Canada - 514-396-0009 (français)

Anne Levesque, Human Rights Committee, CCD – 613 237-4740 (français)