Protesters contest tickets and denounce repression

PRESS RELEASE

People arrested during the demonstration against police brutality on March 15th 2011 gathered today in front of the Municipal Court of Montreal. The Ligue des droits et libertés, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the CLASSE Legal Committee, The collective opposed to police brutality, as well as people arrested during the recent student strike were also present in order to denounce the criminalization of political action.

“The issues raised by social movements are political questions that should not be submitted to the Courts, who are not well adapted for this kind of role,” affirms Blandine Juchs one of the arestees.

Municipal regulations and the Quebec Highway Code are used increasingly for political ends, says the Coalition opposée à la brutalité policière (COBP), and section 500.1 of the Quebec Highway Safety Code, which prohibits the obstruction “in any way” of vehicular traffic on a public highwayduring a “concerted action” is a blatant example of the criminalization of social movements. How can a demonstration be held without “obstructing in any way” vehicular traffic? The wide terms of this section permit the authorities charged with enforcing the law to apply it selectively, on a basis of political and social profiling. On March 15th2011, section 500.1 of the Highway Safety Code was used for the first time against demonstrators: 239 people were given a fine of nearly 500$.

It is apparent that public security authorities are now using section 500.1 of the Highway Safety Code with increasing frequency. On March 20th, 27th and 28th, in Montreal, Sherbrooke and Quebec City, student demonstrations were repressed and hundreds of students given fines under this section.

“Over the last few weeks, we have been able to observe on a daily basis the degree to which student’s demands are met with police and judiciary repression. This tendency is part of a process of criminalization whichshuts down political opposition and stifles open public debate. For example, the arbitrary use and creation of new laws and regulations, along with mass arrests, leads to the effective muzzling of political dissidence”, warns Richard-Alexandre Laniel for the CLASSE Legal Committee.

«The right to peaceful protest must be protected by all public actors. A positive obligation exists to protect and promote the enjoyment of this right. Considering the importance of exercising rights protected by the constitution, police brutality is dangerous for democracy. It must be condemned and stopped.» says Nathalie Des Rosiers from the Canadian Civil Liberties Association

The issues of this trial are fundamental: at the heart of the question is the capacity of groups with few resources to make themselves heard in the public realm. The criminalization of dissidence creates important barriers for the participation in public life of those excluded from the small circles of power.

Amnesty for those arrested and abolition of section 500.1 of the Highway Safety Code! No to the criminalization of dissidence!

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Information : Richard-Alexandre Laniel 514 690 2988 Blandine Juchs 438 822 8105

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