Thursday, August 20, 2009

Justice delayed, is justice denied.

From RightsCity, a project of the BC Civil Liberties Association, with thanks to Jesse Lobdell:

The BC Coroner has scheduled an inquest for November 2009 to probe the in-custody death of Robert Knipstrom in November 2007. The inquest will occur two years after Chilliwack RCMP officers used batons, pepper spray and a Taser on Knipstrom. The cause of Knipstrom’s death has never been released. The BCCLA filed a police complaint shortly after Knipstrom’s death, which will not proceed due to a subsequent complaint initiated by the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP.

For deaths in custody, coroner’s inquests should be automatic, timely, and include funded legal counsel for the family. Conduct investigations also ought to be automatic, timely and released to the public whenever deadly force is used.

It is unfortunate that the BCCLA must initiate complaints in order to obtain information about in-custody deaths. It is unfortunate that the BCCLA seems to be the only organisation that does this in Canada. It is unfortunate that the quest for accountability is met with resistance, hindrance and delay. Robert Knipstrom’s family, his friends, and the public deserve better.

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The Commission for Police Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) announced it will continue its review of the incident in accordance with the terms of the Chair-initiated complaint initiated on November 20, 2007, to assess:

  1. whether the RCMP officers involved in the events of November 19, 2007, from the moment of initial contact until transfer to the care of emergency health personnel, complied with all appropriate policies, procedures, guidelines and statutory requirements for the arrest and treatment of persons taken into custody, and whether such policies, procedures and guidelines are adequate; and

  2. whether the RCMP officers involved in the criminal investigation of the members involved in the events of November 19, 2007 complied with the RCMP policies, procedures, guidelines and statutory requirements for the conduct of such an investigation and whether such policies, procedures and guidelines are adequate, and, further, whether such investigation was carried out in an adequate and timely fashion.


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