SQ officers retire days before disciplinary hearing into Haiti sexual misconduct allegations
Published Friday, July 29, 2016 12:44PM EDT
Last Updated Friday, July 29, 2016 6:18PM EDT
Two Surete du Quebec officers accused of sexual misconduct while deployed in Haiti will not face sanctions after retiring just days before a scheduled disciplinary hearing.
One officer allegedly frequented a bar which was off-limits to mission members and had tried to solicit the services of a prostitute while serving in Haiti in 2013. A criminal investigation was held in that country but no charges were laid. After he returned to Quebec, a second investigation was held, but again, no charges resulted.
In the case of the other officer, he is accused of having had consensual sexual relations with a local woman while in Haiti in 2014.
Under the terms of a deployment agreement SQ officers must sign before going to Haiti, no relations with locals are permitted, due to the difference in real or perceived power and authority. Deployments can last between nine months and a year.
SQ spokesperson said that while neither officer will be formally punished, the fact that they retired means justice has essentially been served.
“The most severe sanction that could be handed down by the disciplinary committee is to fire the police officer,” he said. “In this case, while the officers did retire, the end result is the same.”
Members of Montreal’s Haitian community have complained that the two officers are escaping any punishment for what they did and that despite consent being given in both cases, the officers abused their authority.
"Canada considers Haiti like garbage, you can do whatever you want to Haiti and there will be no punishment, there will be no consequences," said Jean Fils-Aime, a political analyst at Montreal Haitian radio station CPAM.
While in some other North American jurisdictions, disciplinary hearings can still be held even after an officer retires, that is not the case in Quebec.
"Here in Quebec, the labour laws prevent that," said Lapointe. "The Surete du Quebec might be a police force but at the end of the day, we're still an employer with employees. Now, if an employee resigns, then we lose any kind of power to sanction this employee for any kind of behaviour."
According to SQ statistics, there have been 369 deployments to Haiti involving 298 officers and these have been the sole two complaints of sexual misconduct.