Toronto – The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) is intervening in Roberts v. Toronto Police Services Board, an application before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) that raises the issues of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force.
In December of 2014, Rohan Roberts, who identifies as Black, was walking to a friend’s Christmas party in the Jane and Finch area when he was approached by two Toronto Police Service (TPS) officers. Mr. Roberts alleges that the officers demanded his identification and ran his information through several police databases. Following this, Mr. Roberts alleges he was “…arrested, handcuffed and dragged” to a nearby grassy area and beaten. He sustained injuries that required treatment in hospital. All charges against him were dropped. Mr. Roberts asserts that he was the victim of racial profiling and discriminatory use of force based on race.
Racial profiling and discriminatory use of force are serious matters of concern to the public and the OHRC. The OHRC is intervening to argue that this case must be viewed in the context of the over-representation of African Canadians in carding activities of the TPS and disproportionate use of force by police on African Canadians.
The OHRC is asking the HRTO to require Toronto Police Chief Saunders and the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) to take the following steps to end racial profiling and discriminatory use of force in the future:
- Record race-based data on all stops of civilians and incidents of use of force for the purpose of identifying, monitoring and addressing patterns of officer behaviour that are consistent with racial profiling
- Consult with the OHRC to develop and implement a TPSB policy and TPS procedure on racial profiling.
The OHRC would expect that implementation of a TPSB policy and TPS procedure on racial profiling would include effective monitoring and accountability to the public.
Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane stated, “The OHRC has been working with the Toronto Police Service and the Board for over a decade on ways to prevent racial profiling and to deal with it when it happens. This case exemplifies how little progress has been made. We are now turning to legal action so that officers and administrators are held accountable. Racialized communities can’t wait any longer.”
The OHRC is responsible for promoting and advancing human rights, and preventing systemic discrimination in Ontario. The OHRC has a number of functions under the Ontario Human Rights Code, including developing policy, public education, OHRC-initiated applications to the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario, and interventions in legal proceedings. Intervention in this case is part of a longstanding effort by the OHRC to combat racial profiling, including carding, and the discriminatory use of force.
For further information about the OHRC’s efforts to address racial profiling, including carding, and discriminatory use of force see: http://bit.ly/racialprofilingohrc
For more information:
Sr. Communications Officer
Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)