Nunavik loses Kuujjuaq-based prosecutor position
But Quebec bumps number of prosecutors serving region from two to three
KUUJJUAQ—Makivik Corp. says a decision to pull the only Crown prosecutor position based in Nunavik does not bode well for the delivery of justice in the region.
Although Quebec’s Ministry of Justice made no formal announcement, the courthouse in Kuujjuaq no longer has a Crown prosecutor on staff to serve the community and region.
A spokesperson for Quebec’s office of criminal and penal prosecutions (Directeur des poursuites criminelles et pénales or DPCP) told Nunatsiaq News that the office did not remove a prosecutor’s position, but rather increased the number of prosecutors serving the region from two to three—though they are all now based outside Nunavik.
“Although a prosecutor does not reside on-site, the DPCP will continue to offer its services on a permanent basis,” said spokesperson Jean Pascal Boucher in an email.
Boucher said that having three prosecutors working in the region would allow them to travel outside scheduled court weeks to meet witnesses, victims or community members if required.
Makivik lawyer François Dorval said the organization first heard about the change at Kuujjuaq’s courthouse this past fall. When Makivik inquired, Dorval said they were told it was an “administrative decision” and a “temporary measure.”
The long-time Kuujjuaq-based prosecutor Jean-Claude Latraverse continues to serve the region, but no longer from Nunavik.
“Right from the get-go, we indicated that it doesn’t make sense to close that office,” Dorval said.
“The decision to do that comes with no consultation with us. It’s totally unacceptable and it goes against what the region needs and what we’ve been asking for.”
Dorval pointed to a handful of reports prepared in recent years, including by Quebec’s bar association and its ombudsman’s office, which have all recommended Nunavik’s justice system needs to have more permanent staff based in Nunavik.
Currently, many of the staff who serve Nunavik’s justice system are based in Quebec’s Abitibi region, the administrative hub for Nunavik’s mobile court.
“What we’re looking for is more people living in the region,” Dorval said.
“Knowing people in the community makes a big difference in your decision to press charges … or how to prosecute a case.”
Makivik plans to send a complaint in writing to Quebec’s Ministry of Justice before the end of the year.