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Evidence of Police Misconduct At Fairy Creek To Be Heard
Snuneymuxw, Snawnawas & Stz’uminus Territories, Nanaimo, BC, February 23, 2022: BC Supreme Court Justice Douglas W. Thompson handed down his decision today, allowing a precedent setting Abuse of Process Applicationto move forward to a full hearing. It’s the first Abuse of Process application being applied to a large group of people with contempt charges relating to a single injunction order. The Application is being advanced by lawyers representing Fairy Creek land defenders who feel the police misconduct is to such an extent that those who were charged with contempt should not be prosecuted.
RCMP have been accused of widespread and systemic misconduct, which will be reviewed in detail as the hearing moves forward. If the Application succeeds it could pave the way for improvements to enforcement clauses of future injunctions.
“The police are not above the law and must adhere to the law while enforcing it,” states Karen Mirsky, lead counsel for the case. Mirsky says that she and her colleagues have evidence suggesting the RCMP went beyond their enforcement mandate in an attempt to end the protest movement by targeting those who were not actively breaching the Court’s injunction.
“This case is about so much more than the approximately 400 people who stand charged with contempt of court,” adds Mirsky. “Seven hundred other people were arrested or detained at Fairy Creek without charges, some of who were not actively breaching the injunction. We feel that everyone who was at Fairy Creek during the Injunction period had their rights infringed upon. The police have advanced the contempt files that are straightforward, and in doing so have isolated the Court from review of their enforcement tactics. This is one reason why we are asking that all charges be dropped.”
The full hearing is yet to be scheduled and is likely to take place in late 2022. Justice Thompson will not hear the abuse of process application but continues to sit on the dozens of trials that are currently scheduled.
While the legal team addresses this case, forest defenders remain hopeful. But defenders ask why taxpayers are footing the bill for both sides of this legal argument, the Crown andLegal Aid BC, when the public has expressed they want old growth logging stopped. Human rights advocates are thankful that Legal Aid BC is helping this case come to light in support of fair and equitable legal processes for all British Columbians.
“They could just save taxpayers a pile of money by doing what they said they’d do and stop the logging of old growth and evolve the industry,” says Rani Earnhart, a Fairy Creek forest defender. “And while we wait for the outcome of this hearing, industry continues to profit while ancient forests are clearcut. It’s so wrong.”