Human rights lawyers call for appeal and inquiry in Stanley case

By Glenn Hicks
March 2, 2018 - 5:00pm

After one of the most controversial trials in Saskatchewan's recent history, a committee of human rights lawyers in B.C. is calling for an appeal and inquiry.

Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada has written to Saskatchewan's Premier Scott Moe and Attorney General Don Morgan regarding what they’ve called “discrimination and inequality concerns arising from the death of Colten Boushie.” They're calling for an appeal of Gerald Stanley's acquittal and for an independent commission of inquiry into the handling of the file and the jury selection process. Stanley, 56, was charged with second-degree murder in the 2016 shooting death of 22-year-old Boushie, and was found not guilty by a Battleford jury Feb. 9. 

“The verdict caused a crisis in confidence for a large section of the public,” Gail Davidson, executive director of Lawyers' Rights Watch Canada told paNOW. She said the verdict shook public confidence regarding "the ability of the legal system in Saskatchewan to carry out its duty [to provide] equal and non-discriminatory protection to First Nations people."

The Vancouver-based group describes itself as a committee of lawyers and other human rights defenders, who have status with the United Nations.

Davidson said it's important for the Saskatchewan Government to respond quickly, in order to preserve public confidence in the justice system.

"You want everyone to have faith," she said, "so when they’re faced with a problem they won’t want to turn to some form of violent vigilantism.”

The group called on the province to provide resources for an appeal of the acquittal, and for an independent commission of inquiry to conduct a thorough, competent and impartial investigation into the killing of Boushie. They also called for recommendations to be made on various elements of the case including the RCMP response to the shooting, the subsequent investigation and the jury selection process.

Davidson said Canada has come under criticism from various international human rights and treaty monitoring groups after repeated failures to "treat First Nations people in an equal and non-discriminatory way when providing access to both protection rights and remedies for violation rights."

The Crown has 30 days from the Feb.9 verdict to decide if it will launch an appeal.


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