NEWS RELEASE
For immediate release

Public security and racial profiling
THE COMMISSION DES DROITS DE LA PERSONNE ET DES DROITS DE LA JEUNESSE CALLS FOR A REFORM OF POLICE PRACTICES

MONTRÉAL, May 11, 2011 – The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse calls for a thorough reform of the laws, regulations, and practices that govern the work of Québec police officers with a view to putting an end to the racial profiling of members of racialized minorities or immigrants.

In its consultation report on racial profiling and its consequences, entitled: Racial profiling and systemic discrimination of racialized youth, the Commission presents approximately forty recommendations that specifically target the area of public security. These recommendations are aimed at improving relations between police and racialized youth, making police more accountable for their actions, and giving citizens access to real remedies when their rights have been infringed.

Racial profiling is a harmful and discriminatory behaviour, and therefore, the Commission recommends that it should be specifically prohibited by the Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms, the Police Act, and the Code of Ethics of Police Officers of Québec, and that infractions involving racial profiling be punished.

The Commission also requests that the government adopt a number of recommendations aimed at ensuring effective civilian supervision of the police by granting greater powers to the Police Ethics Commissioner and creating a Special Investigations Bureau. This independent agency would be assigned to investigating incidents involving police officers that result in death or serious injury, and would have a staff that reflects the ethnocultural diversity of Québec, including civilian investigators who are not former police officers, in order to provide greater transparency and impartiality in the investigation process involving police officers.

In addition, the section of the Police Act that gives police officers the right to remain silent and to not cooperate with the police ethics process should be repealed.

During its consultation, the Commission observed the serious consequences of the targeted and disproportionate surveillance of racialized young people, and recommends that municipalities and their police departments revise their crime-fighting and street gang control policies in order to take into account their discriminatory biases.

Given the size and diversity of the ethnocultural population that it serves, the Montreal Police Department (SPVM) along with the City of Montréal should review its policies and practices for controlling incivility in order to identify and eliminate the discriminatory impacts that they currently have on racialized persons.

To improve all police practices, the Commission requests that all municipal police departments and the Sûreté du Québec systematically collect and publish data pertaining to the assumed racial affiliation of individuals, so that the phenomenon of racial profiling can be clearly documented and the appropriate steps taken to eliminate it. The only experiment in Canada involving this type of data collection was conducted by the Kingston police department in 2003-2004. Not only did it document discriminatory biases in all police actions (e.g.: decisions to stop and question, detention, arrests, etc.), but it also made it possible for police officers to question the reasons for their actions.

Finally, the Commission recommends that the ministère de la Justice and the ministère de la Sécurité publique take the necessary steps to document the trajectory of racialized minorities through the judicial system. Studies suggest that racial profiling in the judicial system is at least partly responsible for the over-representation of certain groups in the prison system, especially Blacks and Aboriginals.

As it is the case in the other sectors that were the subject of the consultation, the educational sector and the youth protection system, the Commission recommends that police officers be given anti-racist and intercultural training, and that the recruiting, promotion, and evaluation practices employed by police services take into account intercultural competencies.

To find out more about the Commission’s more than 90 recommendations and the report entitled: Racial profiling and systemic discrimination of racialized youth, please visit www.cdpdj.qc.ca.

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Contact :           Patricia Poirier
                        (514) 873-5146 or 1 800 361-6477 ext. 358
                        patricia.poirier@cdpdj.qc.ca