Canadian Human Rights Commission

Canadian Human Rights Commission
Canadian Race Relations Foundation

March 20, 2009 11:23 ET

Canadian Human Rights Commission and Canadian Race Relations Foundation Urge the Collection of Data to Address Profiling

OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - March 20, 2009) - In a joint position released today, the Canadian Human Rights Commission (CHRC) and the Canadian Race Relations Foundation (CRRF) urged policing and security agencies to systematically collect human rights-based data as a tool to help prevent discrimination.

This position flows from a study, The Effectiveness of Profiling from a National Security Perspective, commissioned by the CHRC and CRRF and carried out by researchers from the Universite de Moncton. The research concluded there is insufficient evidence to legitimize the practice of profiling and recommended more rigorous data collection to demonstrate whether or not profiling occurs.

"On the eve of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, we feel it is important to underscore the message that a democratic and pluralistic society like Canada can safeguard the security of its citizens while protecting human rights," said Ms. Jennifer Lynch, Q.C., Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission. "Incorporating the protection of human rights into our security systems requires law enforcement and security agencies to employ accurate and reliable tools and implement proper accountability measures."

"The CRRF is pleased with its cooperation with the Canadian Human Rights Commission in sponsoring this important study on profiling," said Dr. Ayman Al-Yassini, Executive Director of the Canadian Race Relations Foundation. "As the fabric of Canadian society continues to evolve, there is a need to affirm the equality of all members of society regardless of their background. We believe that profiling is inconsistent with Canadian values and commitment to human rights, openness and transparency, and that collection of human rights-related data is the first step towards effective policing and better serving our communities."

Education and outreach activities are important in preventing discrimination and are in place in most agencies. A more proactive evidence-based approach can also help to prevent incidents of profiling. The CHRC and CRRF met with interested non-governmental organizations and federal agencies responsible for security and policing to share this research and discuss possible follow-up actions.

A copy of the research and the joint position can be found at www.chrc-ccdp.ca and www.crr.ca.


BACKGROUNDER

JOINT CANADIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION/CANADIAN RACE RELATIONS FOUNDATION POSITION ON THE IMPORTANCE OF DATA COLLECTION IN ADDRESSING PROFILING

In Canada, equal treatment for all is guaranteed under the law regardless of race, national or ethnic origin, colour or religion(i). Nevertheless, members of diverse community groups do report being profiled by members of police forces and security agencies based on personal characteristics. Decisions that are described as profiling may be sound in the context of policing and national security.

Research shows that there is insufficient evidence to legitimize the practice of profiling. In the absence of evidence-based profiles, people are prone to fall back on personal stereotypes when making decisions.

Since many decisions made by front-line law enforcement and security personnel are discretionary, documenting them offers advantages. It provides the evidence to demonstrate whether or not profiling occurs and why. Several countries and jurisdictions, including the United States, collect human rights-based data as a means of preventing discrimination. The collection of such data is becoming the norm. Canadian police and security agencies are encouraged to integrate relevant human rights data into their existing collection systems.

Collecting data and reporting is also a show of openness and transparency on the part of agencies responsible for policing and security towards the communities served. Overseeing agencies mandated to monitor the activities of policing/security agencies need to play a role in reporting on human rights issues and in encouraging appropriate corrective action, where necessary.

With proper accountability, the security of Canadians can be safeguarded while protecting human rights.

CHRC/CRRF (March 2009)

(i) The list of prohibited grounds in the Canadian Human Rights Act includes race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, age, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, family status, disability and conviction for which a pardon has been granted.

Contact Information

  • Canadian Human Rights Commission
    613-943-9118
    or
    Canadian Race Relations Foundation
    416-952-4476