Does the principle against self-incrimination apply to a witness in a criminal case?

British Columbia, Canada


The following excerpt is from R. v. Kembo, 2010 BCSC 1044 (CanLII):

The principle against self-incrimination has the status of an overarching principle but the principle does not provide absolute protection for an accused person against all potential uses of information that has been compelled by statute or otherwise. The residual protections provided by the principle against self-incrimination, as contained in s. 7 of the Charter, are specific and contextually sensitive: R v. White, 1999 CanLII 689 (SCC), [1999] 2 S.C.R. 417 at para. 45, 174 D.L.R. (4th) 111. It is the balancing of principles that occurs under s. 7 of the Charter that lends significance to a given factual context in determining whether the principle against self-incrimination has been violated. In some contexts, the factors that favour the importance of the search for truth will outweigh the factors that favour protecting the individual against undue compulsion by the state. In every case, the facts must be closely examined to determine whether the principle against self-incrimination has truly been brought into play by the production or use of the declarant’s statement: White, at para. 48; and R v. Fitzpatrick, 1995 CanLII 44 (SCC), [1995] 4 S.C.R. 154, 129 D.L.R. (4th) 129.

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