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Supreme Court Ensures that the Voice of Women with Disabilities Will Be Heard by Courts
September 22, 2016
April 19, 2016
A Modernised Court Challenges Program of Canada: A perspective from the Council of Canadians with Disabilities
September 5, 2014
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)
Jim Derksen views inaccessible York Street Steps in Ottawa. CCD intervened in the Brown Case, which challenged an inadequate accommodation developed for the Steps.
The Latimer case directly concerned the rights of persons with disabilities. Mr. Latimer's view was that a parent has the right to kill a child with a disability if that parent decides the child's quality of life no longer warrants its continuation. CCD explained to the court and to the public how that view threatens the lives of people with disabilities and is deeply offensive to fundamental constitutional values. Learn more.