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Véronique Robert June 28, 2012
It should come as a surprise to no one that police officers are accorded the power to detain and arrest people . These powers, however, are bounded by the criminal code and by the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
These days, in the tumultuous times we are living in, anyone who complains of an arbitrary detention or arrest is confronted with article 31 of the Canadian criminal code.
Like magicians pulling a rabbit out of a hat, supporters of the forces of law and order believe that they have found irrefutable support for the behavior of police officers that seems at face value to be unjustified. (Unjustified, not unjustifiable – every case must be considered on its own.) I am referring in particular of the arrests made at Ile Ste-Helene during the weekend of the Grand Prix F1 and of the mass arrests made on the bus coming back from Victoriaville.
Marie-Claude Guay June 11, 2012
The Chief of the Montreal Police Service (SPVM), Marc Parent denies that the police engaged in political profiling during operations related to the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend.
In a press conference Monday, Mr. Parent assured that the 34 arrests made by police, the refusal to allow 50 people entry to the metro and the police searches were “targeted” and done on the basis of the suspicious behaviour of the individuals stopped.
The Chief of Police, who did not comment on any specific cases, denies any profiling based on wearing the red square. Certain people who were not wearing the red square were stopped; others who were wearing it were not interrupted and could go to Jean-Drapeau Park without concern, he stated.
“I do not associate the red square with violence or with inacceptable behaviour. This has nothing to do with it. Absolutely nothing. A person can wear what they want.” – Chief of the SPVM Marc Parent
Staff note: In order to shed light on the issue of preventative arrests, here is an article that appeared one year ago.
Louis Baribeau, Lawyer May 2011
Original French Text: http://www.barreau.qc.ca/pdf/journal/vol43/201105.pdf - p.11
Canada’s recent admission that preventative arrests were carried out during G20 in Toronto when no crime had been committed questions the legality of the practice.
On November 15th 2010 the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the Organization of American States asked Canada to explain the allegations of human rights violations during G20 in Toronto in June 2010, when1105 of some 25 000 protesters were arrested. It asked in particular which measures Canada had adopted following the 2006 recommendation of the United Nations Human Rights Committee (HRC) to respect the right to peacefully participate in demonstrations of social protests and “in which only those who have committed criminal offences during the course of the demonstrations are arrested.”
Arrests to disperse the crowd
In its January 31st 2011 response to the IACHR’s questionnaire, Canada confirms that among the 10 000 people peacefully demonstrating on June 26 2010 there were a few hundred individuals dressed in black who threw objects toward police officers. “Instead of attempting to penetrate the crowd and to arrest this sub-group of individuals behaving aggressively, a measure that could have caused injury to people who were protesting calmly and to innocent spectators, the police decided that the crowd had to be dispersed and that those refusing to do so had to be put in preventative detention in order to put an end to the breech of the peace and to prevent other anticipated violations,” Canada states in its response.
Canada’s admission of having carried out preventative arrests disobeys the 2006 recommendation of the HRC, confirms Dominique Peschard, president of the Ligue des droits et libertés, also speaking in the name of the Clinique internationale de défense des droits humains de l’UQAM (CIDDHU) and the Fédération internationale des ligues des droits de l’homme in a letter to the IACHR dated February 2011. According to him, Canada’s interpretation of the police’s power to arrest “effectively violates the right of each person to peacefully participate in demonstrations of social protest”.
Marie-Ève Sylveste, Professor, Civil Law section, University of Ottawa
June 12, 2012
PHOTO CAPTION: Montreal’s police force made 34 arrests deemed “preventative” over the Formula 1 Grand Prix weekend.
The City of Montreal’s police service (SPVM) made 34 “preventative” arrests this weekend surrounding the events of Montreal’s Grand Prix, as well as augmented identity controls and searches in the metro and onsite at the Grand Prix.
In so doing, the SPVM has suggested that arrests can be made in virtue of article 31 of the Criminal Code without them ending up in charges. Not only are we of the opinion that the Criminal Code does not allow for preventative arrests, but we are also very concerned to observe that police officers have been incessantly multiplying their recourse to such measures in Canada over recent years, and as such, have acted as though it’s the most normal thing in a democratic society.
Are we witnessing the rise of a preventative state?