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G20 public inquiry momentum grows

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Priyanka Desai
Oye Times
June 30, 2010

What began as peaceful protests during the week leading up to the G20 unfortunately escalated to dangerous violence by Saturday afternoon. Police reacted with mass arrests and temporary detention centres, reaching a record of 900 arrests. Many personal horror stories of these arrests and inhumane treatment by the Toronto Police have surfaced.

Montreal-based journalist Amy Miller told a news conference on Monday that officers threatened to rape her when she was arrested Sunday afternoon. “I was told I was going to be gang banged. I was told that I was never going to want to act as a journalist again by making sure I was going to be repeatedly raped while I was in jail,” she said.

The Toronto Police Service, the Federal Integrated Security Unit, the mayor and the head of police services board defend the police actions, however, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and other human rights groups, including Amnesty International, are calling for a public inquiry into police conduct over G20 weekend. They are also calling for changes to the laws they used to beef up security and an apology to those claiming their civil liberties were trampled.

General counsel Nathalie DesRosiers referred to police conduct in relation to summit security as “disproportionate, arbitrary and excessive,” at times. She added that while there are understandable challenges to policing a large-scale international summit, the violation of individual rights during summit policing “exceeded the threshold of a few isolated incidents” and included the lead-up to the summit itself.

The CCLA says over the course of the weekend, detained people were not allowed to speak to a lawyer or family members. They also said people were subjected to arbitrary searches and peaceful protest were broken up with force.

Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said “We acted to facilitate the rights of all citizens to be heard, the rights of all citizens to speak out on issues of concern. But we also know that some people came to Toronto not to protest around a specific issue or to advocate for any change. They came to attack our city. They came to attack the summit. They came to commit crimes. And to victimize the people of the city.”

The Toronto Police have announced that they are conducting an internal investigation, however, CCLA is pressing for an independent inquiry.

This article was posted: Wednesday, June 30, 2010 at 10:28 am

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