Monday, December 25th, 2006
By Cristin Schmitz, Can West News Service
December 25, 2006
Ottawa – RCMP civilian agents with immunity from prosecution covertly committed a range of crimes, including firearms offences, counterfeiting and theft over $5,000 under the Mounties direction in 2004-2005, the federal government has disclosed.
The latest report on the RCMP’s use of a new “law” which for the first time gives police, and agents under their authority, an immunity from prosecution for most crimes committed in the line of duty, was tabled in the Commons chamber a week ago by Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day.
The contentious law shields designated “public officers” – police park wardens, fisheries officers, customs officials and jail guards who are enforcing any federal statute, and their agents– from crimiÃƒâ€šÃ‚Ânal liability for virtually all crimes, short of obstructing justice, sex crimes, or vioÃƒâ€šÃ‚Âlence causing bodily harm, provided their otherwise illegal conduct is reasonable and proportional” to the crimes being investigated.
Thursday, the Canadian Bar AssociaÃƒâ€šÃ‚Âtion, the voice for 36,000 lawyers across the country, demanded the government repeal the Criminal Code provisions which law enforcement officials call “essential” to combat organized criminals and terrorists but civil libertarians deplore as unnecessary and unconstituÃƒâ€šÃ‚Âtional.
“It is highly questionable whether it is consistent with the rule of law for police to break the law in order to enforce it,” said Vancouver lawyer Greg Deifliglo, who spoke for the association before the Commons justice committee Thursday.
“Police agents are typically themselves criminals and cannot be trusted or relied upon to abide by the law or follow a police officer’s directions,” DelBiglo argued.
The justice committee is in the midst of an overdue mandatory three-year study of whether the February 2002 law is working, and what reforms should be made.
Statistics disclosed last week by the government in its third annual report on the law reveal that from Feb. 1, 2004 to Jan. 31, 2005, the RCMP authorized its agents, typically informers and criminals, to commit multiple crimes on seven occaÃƒâ€šÃ‚Âsions, including illegal firearms offences possession of stolen goods, possession forged passports, theft over $5,000 and counterfeiting
No illegal conduct by police officers themselves was disclosed.