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Witness Protection Program Act (S.C. 1996, c. 15)

Act current to 2022-11-16 and last amended on 2021-08-12. Previous Versions

Witness Protection Program Act

S.C. 1996, c. 15

Assented to 1996-06-20

An Act respecting the establishment and operation of a federal program for the protection of certain persons providing information or assistance and respecting the protection of persons admitted to certain provincial or municipal protection programs

Her Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate and House of Commons of Canada, enacts as follows:

Short Title

Marginal note:Short title

 This Act may be cited as the Witness Protection Program Act.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 1
  • 2013, c. 29, s. 20(F)

Interpretation

Marginal note:Definitions

 In this Act,

Commissioner

Commissioner means the Commissioner of the Force; (commissaire)

designated program

designated program means a provincial or municipal program that is set out in the schedule; (programme désigné)

designated program protectee

designated program protectee means a person who is receiving protection under a designated program; (bénéficiaire d’un programme désigné)

federal security, defence or safety organization

federal security, defence or safety organization means a federal department, agency or service that has a mandate relating to national security, national defence or public safety matters; (organisation fédérale de sécurité ou de défense)

Force

Force means the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; (Gendarmerie)

Minister

Minister means the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness; (ministre)

Program

Program means the Witness Protection Program established by section 4; (programme)

protected person

protected person means a current or former protectee or a current or former designated program protectee; (personne protégée)

protectee

protectee means a person who is receiving protection under the Program; (bénéficiaire)

protection

protection may include relocation, accommodation and change of identity as well as counselling and financial support for those or any other purposes in order to ensure the security of a person or to facilitate the person’s re-establishment or becoming self-sufficient; (protection)

protection agreement

protection agreement means an agreement referred to in paragraph 6(1)(c) that applies in respect of a protectee; (accord de protection)

provincial official

provincial official means, with respect to a designated program, the official designated under subsection 10.1(2) or (3); (fonctionnaire provincial)

substantial harm

substantial harm means any injury, whether physical or psychological, that interferes in a substantial way with a person’s health or well-being; (préjudice sérieux)

witness

witness means

  • (a) a person who has given or has agreed to give information or evidence, or participates or has agreed to participate in a matter, relating to an inquiry or the investigation or prosecution of an offence and who may require protection because of risk to the security of the person arising in relation to the inquiry, investigation or prosecution,

  • (b) a person who has assisted or has agreed to assist a federal security, defence or safety organization and who may require protection because of a risk to his or her security arising in relation to the assistance, or

  • (c) a person who, because of their relationship to or association with a person referred to in paragraph (a) or (b), may also require protection for the reasons referred to in that paragraph. (témoin)

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 2
  • 2005, c. 10, s. 34
  • 2013, c. 29, s. 3

Her Majesty

Marginal note:Binding on Her Majesty

 This Act is binding on Her Majesty in right of Canada or a province.

  • 2013, c. 29, s. 4

Purpose of Act

Marginal note:Protection of persons

 The purpose of this Act is to promote law enforcement, national security, national defence and public safety by facilitating the protection of persons

  • (a) who are involved directly or indirectly in providing assistance in law enforcement matters in relation to

    • (i) activities conducted by the Force, other than activities arising under an arrangement entered into under section 20 of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Act, or

    • (ii) activities conducted by any law enforcement agency or international criminal court or tribunal in respect of which an agreement or arrangement has been entered into under section 14;

  • (b) who are involved directly or indirectly in providing assistance to a federal security, defence or safety organization; or

  • (c) who have been admitted to a designated program.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 3
  • 2000, c. 24, s. 71
  • 2013, c. 29, s. 5

Witness Protection Program

Marginal note:Establishment

 A program to facilitate the protection of witnesses is hereby established called the Witness Protection Program to be administered by the Commissioner.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 4
  • 2013, c. 29, s. 20(F)

Marginal note:Admission to Program

 Subject to this Act, the Commissioner may determine whether a witness should be admitted to the Program and the type of protection to be provided to any protectee in the Program.

Marginal note:Admission to Program

  •  (1) A witness shall not be admitted to the Program unless

    • (a) a recommendation for the admission has been made by a law enforcement agency, a federal security, defence or safety organization or an international criminal court or tribunal;

    • (b) the Commissioner has been provided by the witness with such information, in accordance with any regulations made for the purpose, concerning the personal history of the witness as will enable the Commissioner to consider the factors referred to in section 7 in respect of the witness; and

    • (c) an agreement has been entered into by or on behalf of the witness with the Commissioner setting out the obligations of both parties.

  • Marginal note:Emergency situations

    (2) Despite subsection (1), the Commissioner may, in a case of emergency, and for a period of not more than 90 days, provide protection to a person who has not entered into a protection agreement. The Commissioner may, if the emergency persists, provide protection for one additional period of not more than 90 days.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 6
  • 2000, c. 24, s. 72
  • 2013, c. 29, s. 6

Marginal note:Factors to be considered

 The Commissioner shall consider the following factors in determining whether a witness should be admitted to the Program:

  • (a) the nature of the risk to the security of the witness;

  • (b) the danger to the community if the witness is admitted to the Program;

  • (c) the nature of the inquiry, investigation or prosecution involving the witness — or the nature of the assistance given or agreed to be given by the witness to a federal security, defence or safety organization — and the importance of the witness in the matter;

  • (d) the value of the witness’s participation or of the information, evidence or assistance given or agreed to be given by the witness;

  • (e) the likelihood of the witness being able to adjust to the Program, having regard to the witness’s maturity, judgment and other personal characteristics and the family relationships of the witness;

  • (f) the cost of maintaining the witness in the Program;

  • (g) alternate methods of protecting the witness without admitting the witness to the Program; and

  • (h) such other factors as the Commissioner deems relevant.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 7
  • 2013, c. 29, ss. 7, 20(F)

Marginal note:Deemed terms of protection agreement

 A protection agreement is deemed to include an obligation

  • (a) on the part of the Commissioner, to take such reasonable steps as are necessary to provide the protection referred to in the agreement to the protectee; and

  • (b) on the part of the protectee,

    • (i) to give the information or evidence or participate as required in relation to the inquiry, investigation or prosecution — or to give to the federal security, defence or safety organization the assistance — in respect of which protection is provided under the agreement,

    • (ii) to meet all financial obligations incurred by the protectee at law that are not by the terms of the agreement payable by the Commissioner,

    • (iii) to meet all legal obligations incurred by the protectee, including any obligations regarding the custody and maintenance of children,

    • (iv) to refrain from activities that constitute an offence against an Act of Parliament or that might compromise the security of the protectee, another protectee or the Program, and

    • (v) to accept and give effect to reasonable requests and directions made by the Commissioner in relation to the protection provided to the protectee and the obligations of the protectee.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 8
  • 2013, c. 29, ss. 8, 20(F)

Marginal note:Request for termination of protection

  •  (1) A protectee may request that the Commissioner terminate the protection provided to the protectee.

  • Marginal note:Termination

    (2) The Commissioner shall meet in person with the protectee to discuss their request and shall terminate the protection provided to them if, either at the meeting or afterwards, they confirm their request in the form and manner that the Commissioner considers appropriate in the circumstances.

  • Marginal note:Effective day

    (3) The termination takes effect on the day on which the request is confirmed or on a later day that the protectee may specify.

  • 2013, c. 29, s. 9

Marginal note:Termination of protection

  •  (1) The Commissioner may terminate the protection provided to a protectee if the Commissioner has evidence that there has been

    • (a) a material misrepresentation or a failure to disclose information relevant to the admission of the protectee to the Program; or

    • (b) a deliberate and material contravention of the obligations of the protectee under the protection agreement.

  • Marginal note:Notification of proposed termination

    (2) The Commissioner shall, before terminating the protection provided to a protectee, take reasonable steps to notify the protectee and allow the protectee to make representations concerning the matter.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 9
  • 2013, c. 29, s. 20(F)

Marginal note:Reasons for certain decisions

 Where a decision is taken

  • (a) to refuse to admit a witness to the Program, the Commissioner shall provide the body that recommended the admission or, in the case of a witness recommended by the Force, the witness, with written reasons to enable the body or witness to understand the basis for the decision; or

  • (b) to terminate protection without the consent of a protectee, the Commissioner shall provide the protectee with written reasons to enable the protectee to understand the basis for the decision.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 10
  • 2000, c. 24, s. 73
  • 2013, c. 29, s. 10

Designated Programs

Marginal note:Designation — program

  •  (1) At the request of a provincial minister who is responsible for a provincial or municipal program that facilitates the protection of witnesses and on the Minister’s recommendation, the Governor in Council may, by regulation, designate the program by adding its name to the schedule.

  • Marginal note:Designation — provincial official

    (2) In his or her request, the provincial minister shall designate an official of the applicable province or municipality to be the program’s provincial official.

  • Marginal note:Change of provincial official

    (3) The provincial minister may replace the provincial official by designating another official of the applicable province or municipality and shall notify the Minister without delay of any such replacement.

  • 2013, c. 29, s. 11

Marginal note:Deletion from schedule

 On the Minister’s recommendation, the Governor in Council may, by regulation, delete the name of a program from the schedule.

  • 2013, c. 29, s. 11

Marginal note:Coordination — change of identity

  •  (1) At a provincial official’s request, the Commissioner shall coordinate the activities of federal departments, agencies and services in order to facilitate a change of identity for a designated program protectee.

  • Marginal note:Required information

    (2) The provincial official shall provide any information that the Commissioner requires for the purpose of subsection (1).

  • 2013, c. 29, s. 11

Protection of Information

Marginal note:Disclosures prohibited

  •  (1) Subject to sections 11.1 to 11.5, no person shall directly or indirectly disclose

    • (a) any information that reveals, or from which may be inferred, the location or a change of identity of a person that they know is a protected person;

    • (b) any information about the means and methods by which protected persons are protected, knowing that or being reckless as to whether the disclosure could result in substantial harm to any protected person; or

    • (c) the identity and role of a person who provides protection or directly or indirectly assists in providing protection, knowing that or being reckless as to whether the disclosure could result in substantial harm to

      • (i) that person,

      • (ii) a member of that person’s family, or

      • (iii) any protected person.

  • Marginal note:Means and methods of protection

    (2) For the purpose of paragraph (1)(b), information about the means and methods by which protected persons are protected includes information about

    • (a) covert operational methods used to provide protection;

    • (b) covert administrative methods used to support the provision of protection;

    • (c) any means used to record or exchange confidential information relating to protection or used to gain access to that information; and

    • (d) the location of facilities used to provide protection.

  • 1996, c. 15, s. 11
  • 2013, c. 29, s. 12
 
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