SQ initiates broad review of unfounded sexual assault cases
Published Friday, February 17, 2017 12:11PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 17, 2017 6:51PM EST
The Sûreté du Québec is initiating a broad review of sexual assault complaints determined to be unfounded.
The move follows an investigation by the Globe and Mail that revealed a high rate of cases across the country are thrown out.
The Globe report found that one in five sexual assault claims in Canada are deemed baseless.
In Quebec, their investigation found that sexual assault complaints are dismissed at a rate of nearly double that of other criminal allegations.
A total of 21 per cent of complaints handled by the SQ were dismissed over a five-year period, two points higher than the national average.
Deby Trent of the Montreal Sexual Assault Centre was shocked to hear about the number of cases rejected.
"Does that mean that all of the victims that are coming forward are telling stories are not true? That is not true," said Trent.
She urged police and the Crown to, at the very least, change the words they use when dismiss a case and eliminate the term "unfounded."
"Unfounded is a horrible term. It's basically saying that we think you are lying to us," said Trent.
Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux supports the review, saying he wants to ensure police in Quebec are doing their job.
The Minister said he will review police practices across the province, adding that the SQ is reviewing what he calls a 'significant sampling' of its cases that were dismissed.
"It's verifying whether its current practices that have led to unfounded cases have been processed carefully and exactly as the processes say that it should be. They have to ensure quality in their investigation. This is what they are doing. If they find problems, then there will be other conclusions and then we will see," said Coiteux.
There is currently no timeframe for this review.
Police forces in Canada have also taken similar actions: the RCMP said it plans to review cases from 2016 to determine if they comply with police policy and appropriate decision-making based on evidence.
It will also study a sample of historical cases.
The Ontario Provincial Police force has said it would review some 4000 sexual assault cases between 2010 and 2014.