Canadian Civil Liberties Association files complaints against G20 police

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Canadian Civil Liberties Association

July 15th, 2010

On July 13, 2010, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association filed five complaints with the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD), regarding policing of the Toronto 2010 G20 summit.

CCLA's complaints allege that the following police actions contravened the Criminal Code, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and Canadian and international standards of policing:

- illegal mass arrests of 1,105 persons;
- illegal detentions;
- unlawful dispersals of peaceful protests;
- unlawful use of excessive force on peaceful protestors and passersby;
- unlawful and inadequate conditions of detention.

CCLA's five complaints are respectively about policing at Queen's Park on June 26th, 2010 at 5 p.m.; Esplanade during the evening of June 26th, 2010; Eastern Avenue Detention Centre on June 27th, 2010; Queen and Spadina on the late afternoon and early evening of June 27th, 2010; and conditions inside the Eastern Avenue Detention Centre.

"Police are supposed to protect and facilitate the rights of people to protest," says Nathalie Des Rosiers, General Counsel of CCLA. Noting that there were too many instances of police infringing people's constitutional rights during the G20 weekend, Des Rosiers added "By their own guidelines, police are not supposed to abuse the extraordinary powers they have been granted."

The Office of the Independent Police Review Director has the mandate to review allegations of police misconduct. The illegal mass arrests, detentions, and excessive force used against peaceful protestors must be accounted for.

Canadian law imposes limits on preventative arrests which were not respected during the G20. The "breach of the peace" provision must not be used to unlawfully detain and indiscriminately arrest large groups of people.

"We understand the enormous responsibility upon police to protect the peace," says Des Rosiers, "but police cannot use "breach of the peace" provisions to act in a manner that is unlawful." All arrests, detentions, and use of force must comply with the Charter and criminal law.

According to Des Rosiers, "The courts are clear. ‘Breach of the peace' is only grounds for arrest if there is an imminent threat of danger to person or property by the specific individual being arrested. Mass arrests are illegal."

CCLA's complaints also concern the "kettling" and "containment" of peaceful protestors, journalists, and passers-by during the G20 weekend and their conditions of detention.


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