Founded in 1983 - United for Diversity and Racial Equality


Montréal, November 30, 2012 ---The Quebec Government’s newly introduced Bill 12, which aims to instigate a mechanism for independent investigations of police cases involving death or serious injury, includes both promising elements and elements in need of further legislative clarification.

What follows is a summary of the CRARR’s analysis of the Bill presented yesterday.

The Bill is a significant improvement on the proposals of the previous Liberal government. The Bureau des enquêtes indépendantes is, essentially, an oversight agency for police investigations that will be itself considered as a police force and have the authority to “carry out investigations when a person, other than a police officer on duty, dies, is seriously injured or injured by a firearm used by a police officer, in the context of police intervention or while in custody.”

The Bureau will be set up and led by a director and an assistant director, who will be either a retired judge or a lawyer with more than 15 years of experience. Investigators who are hired will “not be peace officers.” Unlike its predecessor, Bill 12 includes a disposition to provide the necessary resources “to members of the deceased’s family, to reimburse all costs incurred from the use of support services and legal representation, in the case of an investigation by a coroner following the independent investigation.”

The proposed system replaces the current arrangement whereby a police service investigates another police service, which raises serious questions in terms of transparency, independence and credibility.

Despite the promising aspects, Bill 12 contains a number of elements requiring further evaluation and potentially modifications when it reaches parliamentary commission:

  • It is not clear whether the Bureau has the authority to instigate its own investigations on the basis of a citizen’s complaint, or only at the request of the Public Security Minister;
  • The Bureau will have the legal status of a “police force.” The consequences of this, in terms of its legal authority and relationship to other police forces, must be clarified;
  • Investigators can be former police officers, which will certainly create real or perceived problems regarding their partiality and lack of independence. It will also limit the possibility that investigators will come from different ethnocultural and socioeconomic backgrounds;
  • The investigators’ report will not be made public once the investigation is finished;
  • The Bureau is dependent on and reports to the Public Security Minister, rather than the Justice Minister; and
  • It is not clear what will happen if the Police Ethics Commissioner investigates the same case.
  • “Following a number of recent police investigations that have been cause for concern and have been reported around the world, and considering the fact that, in the last 20 years, almost no police officers have faced criminal proceedings due to an intervention that led to death or serious injury to citizens, this Bill offers a singular opportunity to modernize standards of police accountability and strengthen the public’s confidence in the justice system,” observes Fo Niemi, CRARR’s Executive Director.

    Read the Bill (available in French only):

    12-012f.pdf283.55 KB