Canada: The right to peaceful dissent must be respected at the G-20 meeting of finance ministers

'The current crisis, after the events of September 11th, cannot be used as an excuse to silence the voices of dissent', says Alex Neve, Secretary General of the English Branch of Amnesty International Canada. 'Now more than ever a wide range of opinion must be heard by finance ministers from nations including Canada, U.S., Britain, the European Union, China, Brazil and India that are part of the G-20'.

'Past incidents of allegations of police brutality that occurred in Quebec City at the Summit of the Americas, in Davos, Switzerland and Prague, Czech Republic cannot occur again', says Neve.

The call by Amnesty International in May for a public inquiry into the use of tear gas and rubber bullets in Quebec City, as well as the conditions of detention of some of the protesters, was not taken up by the government. Such an inquiry could have established effective practices for the policing of these sorts of events. But the police handling of demonstrators can be tempered by that experience. They must ensure that there is full respect for human rights standards, including the U.N. Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials, says the human rights organisation.

'The test of a society's values is how it deals with peaceful dissent, especially in a time of crisis', says Neve. 'Canada must meet the challenge and respect this right.'

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