Racial profiling : an important victory for a racialized man before the Human Rights Tribunal
Montréal, November 20, 2020 - The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse has just won an important case for a member of the Black community, as the Human Rights Tribunal concluded that he was a victim of racial profiling. A police officer and the Service de police de l'agglomération de Longueuil (SPAL) were ordered to pay him moral and punitive damages totalling $12,000. The Tribunal also ordered the SPAL to set up training on racial profiling for its police officers and to collect data concerning the perceived or presumed racial affiliation of persons who are stopped, in order to document the phenomenon of racial profiling.
"This is an important decision of the Tribunal which recognizes the harm suffered by a black man when he was stopped without cause by police officers. The judgment emphasizes the social context of racial profiling and the urgency to counter it, a message that is in line with our own recommendations," said the President of the Commission Philippe-André Tessier. "This ruling also reinforces a demand that the Commission has been making for more than a year, namely the definitive end of random police checks, which disproportionately target certain groups, including Black communities," added Myrlande Pierre, Vice-President of the Commission responsible for the Charter mandate.
According to the facts reported in the judgment, the complainant, who was driving a luxury car in a residential neighbourhood, was on his way to his son's daycare when a patrol car turned around and followed him for more than a kilometer. When the man stopped in front of the daycare, a police officer asked him for identification. The complainant had not committed any offence and the police did not issue any ticket. The Tribunal concluded that the police officers’ decision to stop the complainant "can only be rationally explained by their bias, consciously or unconsciously, against a racialized person driving a BMW. " The complainant testified solidly about the indignation and humiliation he experienced during this event.
The judgment notes that the individualized profiling suffered by the complainant "is part of a larger context of systemic racial discrimination. The phenomenon is very real, albeit insidious, and its eradication requires education and better training of police forces.”
The judgment also states that racial profiling "is very specifically documented in the literature as well as in several court decisions dealing with racism and racial profiling in law enforcement. It is an insidious phenomenon that requires, in 2020, vigorous and sustained action to counter the prejudices and stereotypes associated with it, which remain all the more tenacious because they are often unconscious. »
The judgment also points out that the Service de police de l'agglomération de Longueuil is introducing new measures to "correct the situation and ensure that the right to equality of the citizens of Longueuil is fully respected by the police.”
The Commission recently published a review of its recommendations on racial profiling and systemic discrimination of racialized youth, available at: https://www.cdpdj.qc.ca/en/news/racial-profiling-report-recommendations
The Commission des droits de la personne et des droits de la jeunesse (Human Rights and Youth Commission) ensures the promotion and respect of the principles set out in the Québec Charter of Human Rights and Freedoms. It also ensures that the interests of children are protected and that their rights recognized in the Youth Protection Act are respected and promoted. In addition, the Commission oversees compliance with the Act respecting Equal Access to Employment in Public Bodies.
– 30 –