For immediate release – November 30, 2016
VANCOUVER – Today, the committee of the Canadian Judicial Council that inquired into Justice Robin Camp’s conduct during a sexual assault trial unanimously recommended his removal from the bench. As a member of a coalition of women’s groups that intervened in the inquiry, West Coast LEAF applauds the Committee’s recognition that Justice Camp’s reliance on sexist stereotypes and myths about sexual assault is “manifestly and profoundly destructive” to the impartiality, integrity, and independence of his role as a judge. West Coast LEAF agrees wholeheartedly with the Committee’s finding that Justice Camp’s behaviour has undermined public confidence in the justice system to an extent that warrants his removal.
West Coast LEAF joined a national coalition of women’s organizations to intervene in the September 2016 inquiry into the conduct of Justice Camp, who came under fire for asking a sexual assault complainant why she couldn’t just keep her knees together and making many other troubling remarks during the trial. The coalition argued that survivors of sexual assault and marginalized women have a right to a justice system free from sexist myths and stereotypes and that their perspectives should be considered when determining the impacts of Camp’s conduct. The Inquiry Committee agreed.
“The coalition argued that the perpetuation of myths and stereotypes about sexual assault in the justice system is profoundly harmful to survivors and to the public at large, and we are pleased that the Inquiry Committee took that argument into account in its decision,” says Raji Mangat, West Coast LEAF’s Director of Litigation. “Justice Camp’s antipathy toward the law of sexual assault – which was reformed decades ago to prevent precisely the kind of victim-blaming conduct he displayed – is unacceptable and undermines justice. We applaud the Inquiry Committee for reaffirming women’s right to a fair and equal justice system.”
“Importantly, the Inquiry Committee recognized that while judicial education is an important tool, after-the-fact education cannot make up for such profound bias and disrespect for equality as evidenced by this case,” says Kasari Govender, West Coast LEAF’s Executive Director. “If we want to address sexual assault in our society, women must be able to trust that the justice system will not bring sexist assumptions to bear on reported assaults. This decision is a vital step in rebuilding public confidence in our justice system.”
The Inquiry Committee’s recommendation has been sent to the Canadian Judicial Council, which will make its own recommendation to the federal Minister of Justice about whether to remove Justice Camp.
West Coast LEAF intervened in the inquiry in coalition with the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, the Ending Violence Association of BC, the Institute for the Advancement of Aboriginal Women, METRAC, and LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund).
Raji Mangat – Litigation Director
Kasari Govender – Executive Director