NIXING THE N-WORD: BLACK STUDENT HAS TO TAKE HIS CASE TO HUMAN RIGHTS TRIBUNAL AT HIS OWN EXPENSE
Montreal, December 20, 2013 --- A Black male student who was called the N-word and the target of death threat by a parent, will have to bring his case to the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal at his own expense, after the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission investigated, decided that he was indeed a victim of racism but declined to represent him before the tribunal because his case is not “of public interest.”
The case dates back to September 2010, when Stan, a 14 year-old Black student at a suburban high school, was called to the principal's office after punching a white student who called him the N-word during a gym class. While he was waiting outside the principal's office, a white woman came up to him and angrily asked whether he was the one who hit her son. When he answered yes, she yelled at him, “f-g N-r” and “I'm going to get a gang from Montreal to kill you.”
Shaken and fearful for his safety, Stan was taken by school staff to another office for his protection. The police was called and eventually charged the woman with uttering a death threat (she was eventually found guilty in criminal court). In the police report, it was reported that the mother still screamed with rage when the police arrived: “That f-g N-r will never put his hands on my kids again that I can promise you.”
CRARR filed the civil rights complaint with the Commission against the mother for her race-motivated violent threat in May 2011. The Commission rendered its decision in late November 2013, upholding the complaint but it exercised its discretionary authority under the law to refer the case to the Human Rights Tribunal without representing the victim. In the Commission' opinion, the case is not “of public interest”, the questions of fact and law in this case are simple and the victim is capable of availing himself of his civil rights before the Tribunal, presumably with CRARR's support.
The problem is that Stan and his family do not have financial means to take legal action on their own. During its investigation, the Commission did not assess the victim's financial ability.
CRARR has previously expressed concerns about the Commission's exercising its discretionary authority not to represent victims of discrimination before the Human Rights Tribunal, which has the effect of forcing these victims to defend their civil rights at their own expense, and preventing economically disadvantaged persons from exercising such recourses. This in turn raises questions regarding access to justice and the effective protection of victims of civil rights violations in Quebec, especially those who are poor.
This matter has been earlier brought by CRARR to the attention of Quebec Justice Minister Bertrand St. Arnaud, who never responded.
Stan's family is determined to go to the Human Rights Tribunal but it now has to find money to pursue the case.