The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA), a rights organization, visited the Fort on July 19.
David Eby, a lawyer and executive director of BCCLA came to Kwah Hall to give a presentation on people’s rights with respect to the RCMP and to hear any comments people had regarding their treatment by the RCMP in the Fort — positive or negative.
Seven people had so far come forward to voice complaints to Eby before he spoke to The Courier, and all of the complaints had involved the use of force.
The initial concerns were generally around being drunk in public and the amount of time people were held in cells and the treatment they received while detained. Persons detained for being drunk in public are only supposed to be held for up to eight hours, or until they are sober, explained Eby, and if they are held longer they must be provided with food.
Eby said he will now take the complaints forward to the RCMP so they are aware of people’s concerns.
The BC Civil Liberties Association is a non-governmental organization working to protect people’s civil rights and ensure accountability in governance.
The group produced a report entitled “Small Town Justice” after visiting communities in northern and central B.C. last year, detailing incidents of excessive force and possible discrimination in relation to the RCMP.
While the RCMP originally dismissed the complaints because they were given anonymously, they have since agreed to look into the issue.
Since the report came out, Eby said he had positive feedback from people in the community of Terrace about dealing with the RCMP there, one of the communities in the report.
“They’re still not perfect, but they’re different.” said Eby.
He had been very concerned about the complaints he received in Terrace while researching the report, and said “It was number one on my list.”
The BC Civil Liberties Association will now be setting up an office in Prince George for people in northern B.C. to bring forward their concerns.