The Charter of Rights and Freedoms: What is it?

The Charter of Rights and Freedoms, or the Charter, is a bill of rights that forms part of our Constitution. It was enacted in 1982, and guarantees civil rights to everyone in Canada from the actions of state actors. It ensures that the Government, and those that act on behalf of the Government, respect the rights of all Canadians. In addition to setting out what our rights are as Canadians, or people living in Canada, it also creates remedies for when state actors abuse those rights.

The Charter has a number of different types of rights. The rights that are most concerning to someone being investigated, or charged, with a criminal offence are the legal rights which are found in sections 7 to 14. These are the rights that people have when dealing with the criminal Justice system and law enforcement officers.

These rights are:

Section 7: right to life, liberty, and security of the person.

Section 8: freedom from unreasonable search and seizure.

Section 9: freedom from arbitrary detention or imprisonment.

Section 10: right to legal counsel and the guarantee of habeas corpus.

Section 11: rights in criminal and penal matters such as the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Section 12: right not to be subject to cruel and unusual punishment.

Section 13: rights against self-incrimination.

Section 14: rights to an interpreter in a court proceeding.

These rights will be explored in more detail in future blog posts.


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