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Quebec police watchdog lacks transparency when investigating officers: report

Last Updated Oct 16, 2020 at 2:52 pm MDT

File image of Bureau des enquetes independantes. (CREDIT: Bureau des enquetes independantes, bei.gouv.qc.ca)

MONTREAL — An independent observer has found that Quebec’s police watchdog is unacceptably opaque and suffers from a number of shortcomings when it comes to investigating complaints by Indigenous people against police.

Fannie Lafontaine writes in a new report that while there has been progress in how investigations have been conducted, the watchdog’s lack of transparency risks undermining public confidence.

Lafontaine, a lawyer and professor, was asked to observe how police investigate allegations against fellow officers after a number of Indigenous women came forward in 2015 to denounce alleged sexual assault and other forms of abuse by police in the mining city of Val-d’Or.

The report finds the watchdog, which took over handling such complaints in 2016, lacks Indigenous representation and does not commit to a timeline for completing its investigations.

Lafontaine also notes that the watchdog, the Bureau des enquetes independantes, releases few details on its investigations, and as one of her 25 recommendations she suggests that it be required to submit detailed summaries.

She notes that since 2015, almost 200 investigations have been opened into allegations of police misconduct towards Indigenous people in Quebec, highlighting the need for a system people can understand and trust.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct 16, 2020

The Canadian Press