Ontario Federation of Labour

Ontario Federation of Labour
No One Is Illegal - Toronto

Council of Canadians

Council of Canadians
Amnesty International Canada

June 24, 2011 11:00 ET

Civil Society Groups Demand G20 Inquiry Into Pattern of Abuses, Question Bogus Charges

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - June 24, 2011) - On the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Toronto G20 meetings civil society groups are coming together to challenge the lack of a full public inquiry into the pattern of police and political abuses perpetrated during the largest mass arrest in Canadian history. Some groups are casting doubt on the legitimacy of criminal charges and convictions against civilians when no ranking police officer or federal politicians have been held to account. A press conference was held at 11am on June 24, 2011, at 25 Cecil Street.

"The justice system is protecting the police and politicians who violated basic constitutional rights while pushing forward convictions for protestors and bystanders on bogus charges. The crimes of the police and politicians are being swept under the rug. This isn't justice," says Farrah Miranda of No One Is Illegal - Toronto and the Toronto Community Mobilization Network.

Of the 1,105 people arrested during the G20, 56 are still facing charges, while 24 have pleaded guilty, many to avoid long and costly trials. In short, 93% of those arrested were not found guilty, while only two per cent of those arrested have been found guilty to date.

"The mass arrests and so-called preventative arrest of organizers during the G20 was a serious assault on democracy not only because of the violation of civil liberties but also because of the way in which it criminalized protests and those who organize them," added Judy Rebick, author and former Gindin Chair in Social Justice at Ryerson University.

"It is clear that Harper's agenda is much broader than the social and fiscal conservative agenda that he is launching against public services, immigrants, equity seeking groups and pensions," added Sid Ryan, President of the Ontario Federation of Labour. "The G20 suspension of civil liberties, along with recent legislation stripping the right to strike, are about eliminating all the democratic tools to oppose his policies."

On June 26, 2011, eleven organizers, long term activists in Toronto were pre-arrested, some in early morning raids, on conspiracy and counselling charges. Many still live under onerous house arrest conditions, banned from using mobile phones, laptops, attending public demonstrations or traveling freely.

The public still has no answers as to who planned, ordered, and oversaw the mass arrests, kettling of civilians, excessive use of force, and denial of basic rights that shocked observers in June 2010. The G20 met in Toronto to orchestrate a global agenda of drastic service cuts and layoffs which impact most severely on the poorest members of society. Many groups contend that the crackdown on the protests was part of an attempt to silence opposition to these policies.

"The abuse of police powers during the G20 summit was a reminder that unaccountable policing is among the great threats to democratic rights and freedoms," said David McNally, Professor of Political Science, York University.

"While we welcome the various reviews undertaken to date, they fall far short of a comprehensive public inquiry that would provide a full accounting for the human rights violations that occurred in and around the G20 summit. We are not just looking for police accountability, but also political accountability. Canadians deserve no less," remarked Shanaaz Gokool, Chair of Amnesty International Toronto.

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