Justicia for Migrant Workers

December 12, 2013 07:00 ET

OPP Accused of Racially Profiling Migrant Workers in DNA Sweep

Migrant Advocacy organization files a complaint regarding the OPP racially profiling migrant workers in massive DNA sweep

TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Dec. 12, 2013) - Justicia for Migrant Workers (J4MW), a migrant advocacy organization, is expressing outrage over racial profiling and other questionable practices used by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) to obtain DNA from approximately 100 Caribbean migrant workers near Vienna, Ontario, during a sexual assault investigation that took place in October and November of 2013.

Chris Ramsaroop, a community organizer with J4MW, intends to file a complaint Thursday December 12th with the Office of Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) (see the attached copy). J4MW will also request that the Ontario Human Rights Commission investigate this matter. Information collected from interviews with Jamaican, Trinidadian, and Dominican migrant workers who were affected by the DNA sweep, appears to show that workers were targeted for investigation solely because of the colour of their skin. It is believed that this is one of the largest DNA sweeps targeting racialized people in Canadian history.

The OPP conducted its investigation with what appears to be a total disregard for the suspect description it issued. DNA samples were taken from Indo and Afro-Caribbean men whose ages ranged from 21 to 61, whose heights ranged from 5'0" to 6'5", and whose body sizes ranged between 130 lbs to 310lbs. Other identifying features (e.g. hair style) were also disregarded. Workers were targeted who did not conform to the suspect description.

"Based on the available information it seems that the OPP engaged in racial profiling of migrant workers in rural Ontario, using tactics which would immediately be condemned in larger urban settings such as Toronto. This is yet another example of the serious vulnerabilities that these workers struggle with as a result of systemic marginalization and an absence of appropriate safeguards under the law," says Shane Martinez, the lawyer who is representing J4MW with respect to the OIPRD complaint.

Adrian Smith, another community organizer with J4MW, says, "The sexual assault that occurred must be condemned roundly by all segments of society. We also must stand strongly against policing practices that criminalize and demonize migrant workers."

Justicia for Migrant workers is a not-for-profit collective based both in Vancouver, BC and Toronto, ON that advocates for the rights of migrant workers.

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