— The OHRC (@OntHumanRights) July 11, 2016
Toronto – The Toronto Police Service Disciplinary Tribunal has denied the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s motion for leave to intervene in the Neptune 4 case on jurisdictional grounds.
The OHRC asked to intervene to ensure that racial profiling would be addressed in light of its expertise and distinct perspective. Racial profiling is an issue at the heart of the OHRC’s mandate to protect human rights and the public interest in Ontario.
The case was launched after four Black teens were arrested at gunpoint by two Toronto Police officers in 2011— the charges were later withdrawn. The encounter was caught on Toronto Community Housing Corporation security cameras. A version posted by the Toronto Star shows one of the teens being punched and pulled to the ground.
The officers were part of TAVIS – the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy. The youth had left their apartment on Neptune Drive in Lawrence Heights to attend a tutoring session next door. Ontario’s Office of the Independent Police Review Director found that charges of officer misconduct were warranted. The OIPRD highlighted that, according to the officers and the youth, the youth “were not misbehaving in any manner”.
The Tribunal’s decision to deny the OHRC’s motion illustrates the fact that the Ontario police complaints system cannot be relied upon to address racial profiling and is not sufficient to restore public trust.
Renu Mandhane, Chief Commissioner of the OHRC, commented: “To date, the police prosecutor has not committed to raising the issue of racial profiling in the Neptune 4 case, despite the fact that we believe it is relevant. Given the Tribunal’s decision, we call on the police prosecutor to fully address it in the upcoming hearing”.
The OHRC remains concerned that there is no effective mechanism to hold police accountable for systemic discrimination. That is why it is calling on the government to require independent, arms-length and public monitoring of police services and police services boards regarding systemic discrimination. The OHRC made this call in a submission to the government on its Strategy for a Safer Ontario.
The OHRC is carefully reviewing the decision and considering judicial review.
For more information:
Senior Communications Officer
Ontario Human Rights Commission
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