MANDATE OF THE BRITISH COLUMBIA REVIEW BOARD
The British Columbia Review Board is established pursuant to s. 672.38 (Part XX.1) of the Criminal Code of Canada. It has ongoing jurisdiction to make and review dispositions with respect to individuals charged with offenses in respect of whom verdicts of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder or unfit to stand trial on account of mental disorder, have been rendered.
The fundamental policy objectives of Part X.X.1 as affirmed by the Supreme Court of Canada in Winko v. B.C. (June 17, 1999) are:
- The protection of the public and treating mentally disordered accused persons fairly and appropriately: [Par. 21, 22, 30].
- To improve protection for society against those few mentally disordered accused who are dangerous; and to recognize that mentally disordered offenders need due process, fundamental fairness and need the rights accorded to them for their protection when they come into conflict with the criminal law: [Par. 22].
The operative decision making criteria which govern the Board's dispositions are contained in s. 672.54 of the Criminal Code:
s. 672.54: "Where a court or Review board makes a disposition pursuant to subsection 672.54(2) or section 672.47, it shall, taking into consideration the need to protect the public from dangerous persons, the mental condition of the accused, the reintegration of the accused into society and the other needs of the accused, make one of the following dispositions that is the least onerous and least restrictive to the accused:
(a) where a verdict of not criminally responsible on account of mental disorder has been rendered in respect of the accused and, in the opinion of the court or Review Board, the accused is not a significant threat to the safety of the public, by order, direct that the accused be discharged absolutely;
(b) by order, direct that the accused be discharged subject to such conditions as the court or Review Board considers appropriate; or
(c) by order, direct that the accused be detained in custody in a hospital, subject to such conditions as the court or Review board considers appropriate. 1991. C43, s.4."
On May 19, 2005, Bill C-10, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (mental disorder) received Royal Assent (S.C. 2005 c.22):
· as a result of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision in R. v. Demers, the provisions of the Criminal Code which apply to an accused who is not dangerous but, by virtue of his/her mental condition is seen as permanently unfit to stand trial, were deemed unconstitutional (S.7, CHARTER);
· Bill C-10 provides for the Review Board to recommend that a court conduct an inquiry and order a judicial stay of proceedings for an unfit accused who is not likely to ever achieve fitness to stand trial and who is not a significant threat to public safety;
· the aspects of Bill C-10 which enable the Review Board to order an assessment of the accused and which provide for judicial stay came into force June 30, 2005.
Other aspects of Bill C-10 came into force on January 2, 2006, including:
· provisions which enhance rights of notification and participation of victims at Review Board hearings;
· provisions which allow and, in some cases, require the Review Board to ban publication of the identities of (minor) victims and witnesses;
· amendments which clarify the process of the inter-provincial transfer of mentally disordered accused persons in the interests of their rehabilitation;
· a number of procedural and interlocutory matters including adjournment powers and enforcement options.