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AFTER FOUR YEARS, THE QUEBEC HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION ORDERS $8,000 IN COMPENSATION FOR A FILIPINO SENIOR WHO WAS RACIALLY HARASSED BY HIS NEIGHBORS


Montréal, December 18, 2007 --- Notwithstanding that he was finally vindicated by the recent order of $8,000 in compensation by the Quebec Human Rights and Youth Rights Commission, 70-year old Cecilio Rous feels that it took much too long to see justice in the investigation of the complaint laid by him together with his wife, against their white neighbors who racially harassed them.

Originally from the Phillipines, the Rous couple emigrated to Canada in 1977 and have lived in St-Hubert since 1986. In 2003, Mr. Cecilio Rous and Ms. Rustica Punzalan Rous sought CRARR's help and protection from their neighbors. In June 2003, these neigbors threw garbage on their property, provoked Mr. Rous into attacking them, and then told him to return back to his own country. At the time of this incident, in 2003, Mr. Rous was 66 and Ms. Rous was 67 years of age. Also, Ms. Rous, a victim of a cerebral vascular accident.

CRARR filed a complaint on behalf of Mr. and Ms. Rous in August 2003, claiming $40,000 in damages from the four neighbors who were identified as having racially harassed the couple. The Commission's investigator had his first interview meeting with Mr. Rous, at his home, in November 2005. Most unfortunately, Ms. Rous died of cancer in June 2007, at the age of 71 and never got the chance to meet with the investigator prior to her death. Her testimony was never heard by the Commission.

In its decision of November 26, 2007, the Commission ordered that $5,000 in moral damages and $3,000 in punitive damages be paid to Mr. Rous. As for Ms. Rous, the Commission relied on a report from the Longueuil police, prepared in response to the incident of June 2003, to conclude that she was never a victim of discrimination from
the neighbors, and consequently, no damages were awarded in her favor. The Respondent neighbors were ordered to pay Mr. Rous by no later than December 21, 2007, failing which the case will be brought before the Quebec Human Rights Tribunal.

“Although I am pleased with the decision, I am very disappointed that my wife did not get the protection to which she was entitled in virtue of the Quebec Charter of Rights and Freedoms,” said Mr. Rous. “She waited four years to see justice. I am ready to go all the way for I must protect our rights, even if my wife is no longer beside me.”

Fo Niemi, CRARR’s Executive Director, notes that the delays both before the Commission and the Longueuil Municipal Court (where it took 3 years for the case against one of the neighbors to be heard) can throw the administration of justice into disrepute.

“People are not going to go to the Commission if they think it can take 4 or 5 years to investigate their complaint,” he said. “The Government must ensure speedy access to justice for elderly persons, persons with physical challenges, and for racial minorities when their basic civil rights have been violated,” added Mr. Niemi.

Cecilio Rous presenting a donation to Fo Niemi