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Alan Borovoy Speaks at Glendon about the Policing of Last Year’s G20 Summit


<p>Alan Borovoy, General Counsel Emeritus of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association was the guest lecturer invited by Glendon&rsquo;s Canadian Studies Program on March 21. Borovoy addressed issues of human rights violations by police against protesters and others during the G20 Summit of June 2010 in Toronto.<br /><br />Borovoy expressed deep concerns about police acitivity at the G20 summit protests. He raised some disturbing questions, including &ldquo;Why and how did police arrest thousands of people most of whom were peaceful protestors?&rdquo;</p>
<p><img style="float: right;" src="" alt="" width="300" height="225" /><span class="image_caption">Right: Alan Borovoy</span><br /><br />He stated that the police used their authority for &ldquo;preventive detention&rdquo; - having the legal right to detain citizens merely on suspicion that they might breach the peace or commit some criminal activity &ndash; not only on peaceful protestors, but also on members of the press, human rights observers and innocent bystanders. Entire groups of police went about their activities without their badges, thereby making it impossible for them to be identified. They also used questionable techniques, such as &lsquo;kettling&rsquo; &ndash; where large groups of police surrounded protesters in such a way that they could not move or escape, while beating drums in a threatening way. Those who were arrested were not allowed to exercise their civil rights to contact legal counsel, were not provided with the basic necessities, or medication that was crucial to their health. They were later released without a hearing, which meant that the police who made these arrests and held them in detention were not held accountable. Despite a public uproar, the police and the government did not respond in any way. <br /><br />Borovoy stated that there were over 1000 arrests during the Summit, hundreds of them detained for breach of the peace, without any evidence of criminal activity.<br /><br />The Canadian Civil Liberties Association wants a public inquiry of the police&rsquo;s G20 activities, but so far the government has refused to act. &ldquo;Although our complaint system has improved in past years, it is still cop-heavy&rdquo;, said Borovoy. &ldquo;Police play too great a role in investigating their own activities. An independent complaint office at both the provincial and federal levels would eliminate many injustices and restore a more favourable public view towards the police force.&rdquo; <br /><br />Borovoy made several recommendations for improving police accountability, stating that requesting accountability should not be up to the victim. His recommendations included the need for written evidence to prove reasonable grounds for every arrest; that police should be subject to cross examination to find out if there were reasonable doubts for an arrest; and that these measures of police accountability should be included in the criminal code. <br /><br />A. Alan Borovoy was General Counsel of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association from May 1968 until June 2009. He is the author of The New Anti-Liberals, Uncivil Obedience: The Tactics and Tales of a Democratic Agitator and When Freedoms Collide: The Case for Our Civil Liberties, which was nominated for the Governor General&rsquo;s Award in 1988. He is also a part-time lecturer at Glendon College&rsquo;s Canadian Studies Program.</p>
<p><em>Article by Glendon communications officer Marika Kemeny</em></p>

Published on March 23, 2011