CRARR NO LONGER SUGGESTS MEDIATION FOR RACIAL PROFILING CASES BEFORE THE QUEBEC HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
Montreal, September 26, 2013 --- CRARR no longer recommends that complainants and victims of racial profiling involving the police participate in mediation to settle their complaints at the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission.
Recent mediation experiences with representatives of the City of Montreal and the Montreal Police Service have ended in failure. Many racialized victims and complainants, particularly Black women and youths, come out of mediation sessions feeling more diminished and humiliated, believing that the exercise is a waste of time and an inefficient procedure to combat racial profiling.
While recognizing the quality of the Commission’s mediation service, most racialized persons accompanied by CRARR did not regain their trust in the City and the Montreal Police Service, especially in cases involving excessive force and other abusive police practices directed at youths of color, and in cases in which criminal charges are filed against these persons.
Many mediation participants detect a general attitude of resistance that seeks to deny that race discrimination exists, as well as a lack of sensitivity towards victims (especially women) when they raise the specter of bias in a police intervention. Many believe that mediation has been used as a therapy session or an educational activity on police work, instead of being a neutral forum to resolve in a mutually satisfactory manner a complaint.
There is also the fear that mediation is being used as a means to further prolong what is already recognized as an excessive delay in the handling of complaints at the Commission and ultimately, as a means to indirectly encourage victims to drop their complaints.
At present, CRARR still has complaints of racial profiling filed since 2008 for which there is no information as to when the Commission will issue its decision. Many race discrimination complaint files at the Commission often take months before being assigned to an investigator; some are left without any investigative activity for up to two years, which can lead of loss of crucial evidence, or being bounced back and forth between investigation and mediation.
Another troubling reality about mediation: some vulnerable victims, particularly those with little knowledge of the law and the procedures, and those with psychological consequences resulting from a police intervention, participate in mediation alone, without counsel or support, and end up facing several respondent police officers and their lawyers on the other side of the table. This power imbalance places victims in a clearly disadvantaged position.
For the reasons cited above, CRARR no longer recommends mediation for complaints of racial profiling and discrimination involving the City of Montreal. It will only participate in exceptional circumstances. It is also reviewing its position on mediation in cases involving the Montreal Transit Authority (STM) and other municipal police departments.