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Montreal, November 11, 2012 --- The application for judicial review filed by Amal Asmar, the Concordia University student who was violently arrested and abusively fined by two Montreal police officers in February 2010, will be heard tomorrow, Monday, November 12, 2012, at 9:30 am, before the Quebec Superior Court, at the Montreal Court House (1 Notre Dame East).

It should be noted that all parties will meet at Court Room 2.08 at 9:30 am from where they will be directed to a specific court room for the hearing.

Ms. Asmar, an Arab Canadian, was going from Concordia's library to a friend's house in downtown Montreal after a late night's study. She stopped and rested on a bench on St Catherine West, near Atwater. Two police officers drove up, asked for her ID and then claimed that she broke the law by putting her bags on the bench. After a brief exchange on what she did wrong, she was violently arrested, handcuffed and then searched. She was then released, with a $620 ticket for making noise and a $480 ticket for using municipal property, in this case the bench, improperly.

The violent arrest made her unable to go to school for days afterwards. She then mandated CRARR to file a civil rights complaint and a police ethics complaint against the two officers. Due to media coverage, the police dropped the charges against her.

In January 2011, Police Ethics Commissioner Paul Simard upheld most of the complaint filed by Ms. Asmar and cited the two police officers before the Police Ethics Committee for breaching several sections of the Quebec Code of Police Ethics. He ruled in her favor on all grounds, except for those related to racial profiling, bringing charges without justification and the officers' refusal to identify themselves. The Commissioner dismissed the complaint against the police supervisor, who showed up during the arrest, since, in his opinion, the supervisor could not be “held responsible for the false or erroneous information he received” from the officers.

Troubled by the Commissioner's position on the justification for the two fines and the rejection of the racial profiling aspect, Ms. Asmar filed for a review of the decision with the Police Ethics Committee (a specialized tribunal) in February 2011.

In her review decision, Committee Member Louise Rivard questioned the officers' decision to issue fines as well as the amount of these fines. In her opinion, the “disproportionate” fines were double and triple the minimal amount normally associated with the infractions. The Committee noted the officers “bad intentions” and questioned their “attitude“ given that one of the fines was issued for yelling. It reversed Commissioner Simard's decision to justify the tickets, and cited for the two officers to appear before the Committee.

The Committee did conclude, however, that the officers had done nothing “reprehensible” by taking an interest in Ms. Asmar, who was sitting on a public bench at 2:30am during the winter (although it failed to explain the context). It also added that they had not acted on the basis of her race, effectively rejecting the racial profiling and bias claim.

In disagreement with Committee's reasoning on racial profiling, Ms. Asmar sought CRARR's help to have the Superior Court review the Committee's decision and correct what appears to be an erroneous application of case law on racial profiling. The judicial review is also supported by the Concordia Student Union.

The judicial review carries special importance as it addresses how the Quebec police ethics system (composed of the Commissioner and the Committee) applies Canadian case law on racial profiling. The Police Ethics Commissioner does not have policy guidelines on racial profiling and it is uncertain as to how he handles and analyzes complaints of racial profiling.

In recent years, Canadian courts have established guidelines for examining race dynamics and circumstantial evidence of profiling and for taking into account “social context”. However, many judges and administrative agencies in Quebec often avoid what many experts describe as “critical race analysis” in handling racial discrimination cases, resulting in race as a factor being “erased” from the cases and case dismissal.

CRARR lawyer Aymar Missakila represents Ms. Asmar in the judicial review.