A man walks pass the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick A man walks pass the Supreme Court of Canada in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017. File photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick

Mandatory victim surcharge cruel and unusual punishment, top court rules

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government made the charges mandatory in 2013.

The Supreme Court of Canada says a law that makes people convicted of crimes pay surcharges to helps victims is unconstitutional.

In a 7-2 decision delivered this morning in Ottawa, the Supreme Court found the mandatory victim surcharge amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.

The court says the surcharge creates a crushing financial burden on poor people and places them under constant threat of being arrested and jailed if they do not pay.

Judges have been forced to impose a one-size-fits all punishment that does not take into account the individual’s ability to pay, the court says.

Read more: Confusion surrounds controversial victim surcharge fees

Stephen Harper’s Conservative government made the charges mandatory in 2013.

The decision means no victim surcharges can be imposed in any conviction, starting immediately.

The Canadian Press

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