Justice delayed and denied: The RCMP can no longer be left to investigate itself
- Justice delayed and denied: The RCMP can no longer be left to investigate itself
Saturday, November 01, 2008
If there's one organization that doesn't need any more bad publicity, it's the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. So why does the force seem hell-bent on further tarnishing its reputation?
It has been more than year since Polish immigrant Robert Dziekanski died at Vancouver International Airport after being Tasered by four Mounties. And we still have no word on whether any of them will be charged with an offence.
As in any case, this delay -- nay, denial -- of justice is bad for everyone: For Dziekanski's mother Zofia, who wants to know what happened to her son and why, for members of the public, whose faith in the national police force is at an all-time low, and for the officers involved in the incident, who have been living for more than a year with the possibility that they will face serious criminal charges.
But in this case, things are even worse. The delay is not merely affecting Dziekanski's relatives, the public and the police; it has also resulted in not one, but two postponements of an inquiry conducted by retired B.C. Court of Appeal justice Thomas Braidwood.
The inquiry was scheduled to begin Oct. 20, but was delayed to Nov. 20 and then to January because the Crown had not decided whether to lay charges against the officers. According to the Crown, that's because it has yet to receive the full report from the RCMP.
And in this game of passing the buck, the RCMP says its report isn't complete because a doctor hasn't completed a necessary medical report.
The delay has raised people's suspicions that the RCMP is simply stalling, given that the case involves some of its own. And such suspicions are not unreasonable since this is not the first time the RCMP has acted questionably during the Dziekanski case, and not the first time the Mounties have taken an inordinately long time to investigate their own officers.
Indeed, just after Dziekanski was Tasered, the Mounties declared that they would not return a videotape of the incident to its rightful owner until the investigation was complete which, they said, could take 21/2 years. They eventually did return the tape, but only after facing significant pressure.
The force has also frequently spent months investigating several seemingly straightforward police shootings, and, in a most troubling case, an RCMP disciplinary panel threw out charges against an officer accused of buying sex from teenage prostitutes because the Mounties had taken too long to bring the case forward. Talk about justice denied.
And now justice is being denied in the Dziekanski case. This is behaviour we would expect of the Keystone Kops, not a national police force. And it provides more evidence -- not that any more was needed -- that we must relieve the RCMP of the responsibility to investigate itself, since that is a responsibility the force clearly can't handle.
Poll question: Should the RCMP continue to have the responsibility to investigate itself? Vote Yes or No at: vancouversun.com/editorial
On Friday, we asked whether you thought Canadians should eat less meat. Most respondents -- 83.12 per cent -- agreed while 16.88 per cent thought a meat-heavy diet was just fine.
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