Amnesty International Calls for Public Inquiry into Alleged Police Brutality

Article excerpt

Canada, May 5, 2001: In the aftermath of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, Amnesty International is calling for a public inquiry to investigate police tactics and behavior in handling the demonstrations which surrounded the meeting and conditions for people detained at Orsainville prison.

"Eye witness accounts--including from our own observer--point to the excessive use of tear gas by police against peaceful demonstrators and the use of plastic bullets," the organization said. Figures announced by the authorities, including the use of around 800 rubber and plastic bullets and over 4,000 gas and smoke canisters, would seem to bear this out.

Amnesty International has written to the Quebec Minister for Public Security and the Solicitor General of Canada expressing concern about the following violations of protesters' rights during and after the demonstrations:

* The excessive use of tear gas on protesters not involved in violent behavior or posing any threat to property or the police, including the firing of tear gas directly at individuals and directly into private property for no apparent reason.

* The use of plastic bullets in situations where the safety of police officers and the integrity of the summit were not threatened.

* The use of an electro-shock device on a peaceful demonstrator who had refused police instructions to move, which is tantamount to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. …