The BCCLA is demanding the end of secret applications for standing and secret discussions between police, government and staff of the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry.
Last week, another police officer, with two lawyers, was granted “full” standing in the inquiry, giving his legal team the right to cross examine any witnesses. The application was heard, considered and decided on by the Commission without notice to family members or organizations interested in police accountability, women’s rights or Indigenous rights.
Unlike this latest police participant, who now has the right to ask any questions his lawyers wish, the BCCLA, Amnesty International Canada, the Assembly of First Nations, and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs, along with a coalition of 10 women’s organizations, have only been given “limited” standing and can only ask questions with the permission of the Commissioner.
This latest decision follows a series of non-transparent decisions involving the police, the police union, the Criminal Justice Branch and the Commission, many of which remain unresolved, including:
- Discussion and circulation of the transcript of Commissioner Oppal’s phone message to former Attorney General Barry Penner;
- The decision to retain Peel Police officers as expert witnesses on an ongoing basis, and the terms of their review and access to documents, despite members of the same force being currently investigated by the RCMP for various drug offences;
- The terms of the document disclosure agreement between the Commission, the RCMP and the VPD, and what information will and will not be disclosed to all parties;
- The decision to appoint independent counsel and the terms of retainer of those lawyers;
- The preparation of an expert witness list and a witness list by the Commission, despite repeated requests for access to that list by participant groups.
Robert Holmes, Q.C., President, (604) 838-6856
David Eby, Executive Director, (778) 865-7997