Quebec Summit – Canada should call for Inquiry by Inter-American Commission On Human Rights


The extreme and provocative security measures deployed before and during the Summit and the heavy-handed police tactics warrant an investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said Rights & Democracy’s President, Warren Allmand.

Montreal, May 22, 2001 ? Rights & Democracy today called for an independent public inquiry into the security measures at the Summit of the Americas, echoing the call made by a number of Canadian civil society organizations. The extreme and provocative security measures deployed before and during the Summit and the heavy-handed police tactics, including the excessive use of tear gas and plastic bullets, warrant an investigation by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, said Rights & Democracy’s President, Warren Allmand.

“There needs to be an inquiry on the impact of these security measures on effective dissent in the Americas. In keeping with the final Declaration of the Quebec Summit which called for strengthening of the inter-American human rights system, we are calling for the involvement of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission,” Mr. Allmand said. “The Commission, a credible, independent organization would guarantee legal standing for all relevant participants and its findings would have an impact on future summits and Organization of American States (OAS) meetings.”

The Inter-American Human Rights Commission is body of OAS whose mandate is to promote and protect human rights within the inter-American system. A member state can invite the Commission to carry out an inquiry into an incident of alleged human rights violations. Moreover, the Canadian Inquiries Act provides for such a request to the Commission.

Mr. Allmand noted that Rights & Democracy is particularly concerned with reports that police used almost 1,000 plastic bullets, weapons that have proven fatal on some occasions, as well as the public health implications, on both demonstrators and Quebec residents, of the use of more than 5,000 canisters of tear gas. He also deplored the conditions of severe over-crowding in the police cells, the public stripping of detainees as well as failure to allow them access to their lawyers within the legal time limit.

Following the Summit of the Americas last month, the President of Rights & Democracy wrote to Prime Minister Jean Chr?tien expressing his concerns and calling for a public inquiry: “Many of these people (who protested peacefully at the Summit) …have had their faith in the Canadian democratic process seriously shaken. For this reason, we think it is advisable to have a rapid, transparent, public, independent inquiry so the light can be shed on what happened and appropriate plans be put in place for future events.”