British Columbia Civil Liberties Association
February 16, 2010
For immediate release
BC Civil Liberties Calls on Canadian Border Services to Explain their “Inland” Patrols
ATTENTION EDITORS: The previously announced daily press briefings at 8:00 a.m. at 1188 West Georgia are cancelled. Press briefings will be announced by media advisory.
The BCCLA is calling on the Canadian Border Services Agency to explain the presence of “inland” patrols in downtown Vancouver which are increasingly being noted by the BCCLA Legal Observers.
Legal Observers attended at yesterday’s major demonstrations which proceeded peacefully: an anti-war demonstration that took place at the Vancouver Art Gallery Monday evening and an anti-houseless demonstration took place at noon. The housing demonstration culminated in a “tent village” that is situated in a vacant lot in the 100 block of West Hastings Street. While all went well at these events, the Legal Observers are noting policing changes.
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BCCLA: “We are sensing a shift in the policing culture of the public demonstrations, in particular we are noting the presence of Canadian Border Services Agents patrolling public space. We are unclear on their authority and mandate and ask the CBSA to clarify for the public what they are doing patrolling our downtown streets.”
The Legal Observers have also seen Corrections Officers present at demonstrations and will be seeking clarification on this as well.
Vonn: “We are seeing an edgier tone to the policing of the demonstrations with increased incidents of our Legal Observers being pointedly photographed and addressed by name by police officers who are apparently interested in letting our volunteer citizen observers know that the police have gone to some effort to identify them.”
Micheal Vonn, Policy Director, BCCLA, 778-829-3471
David Eby, Executive Director, BCCLA, 778-865-7997
The Olympic Village was one of the first areas of the city locked down before the Games. We took a wander around the security perimeter today. There is an amazing amount of video surveillance around the Village, and the double layers of fencing are hardened with concrete barricades. There are also lots of ISU personnel around, from RCMP to private security.
Here are some of the photos we took:
The BCCLA has signed on to the Vancouver Statement of Surveillance, Security and Privacy Researchers about the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games:
The BCCLA is endorsing the statement of Canadian and international researchers who study “mega-event” security. Surveillance and privacy experts have called on Canada to “moderate the escalation of security measures for Vancouver 2010” and to be as transparent as possible about security and surveillance practices. The statement also calls for an independent and public audit of Olympic security and surveillance measures post-Games and to have full and open public discussions about proposed “legacies” such as public video surveillance.
The full text of the Vancouver Statement is below:
As researchers from Canada and the wider world, who are conducting research on the global security dynamics of mega-events, we agree:
- that the Olympic Games should be a celebration of human achievement, friendship and trust between people and nations.
However, having analyzed past and planned Olympics and other mega events, from a variety of historical and international perspectives, we recognize:
- that recent Games have increasingly taken place in and contributed to a climate of fear, heightened security and surveillance; and
- that this has often been to the detriment of democracy, transparency and human rights, with serious implications for international, national and local norms and laws.
Therefore, we ask the City of Vancouver, the Province of British Columbia and the Government of Canada:
- to moderate the escalation of security measures for Vancouver 2010 and to strive to respect the true spirit of the event;
- to be as open as possible about the necessary security and surveillance practices and rationales to withdraw temporary bylaws that restrict Charter rights of freedom of speech and assembly;
- to work constructively with the Provincial and Federal Privacy Commissioners;
- to respect the rights of all individuals and groups, whether they be local people or visitors, and pay particular attention to the impacts on vulnerable people;
- to conduct a full, independent public assessment of the security and surveillance measures, once the Games are over, addressing their costs (financial and otherwise), their effectiveness, and lessons to be learned for future mega-events;
- not to assume a permanent legacy of increased video surveillance and hardened security measures in the Vancouver/Whistler area, and to have full and open public discussion on any such proposed legacy.
We hope that these recommendations will contribute to a unique and positive Olympic legacy by which Vancouver, British Columbia and Canada will be remembered for setting the highest ethical standards.
November 23, 2009