RCMP sexual assault, abuse accusations illustrate why Canada needs national inquiry into murdered aboriginal women
The New Democrats say fresh allegations of abuse by Mounties in northern British Columbia underscore the need for a national inquiry into missing and murdered Aboriginal women in Canada.
NDP MP Niki Ashton says that’s the only way to get justice for the women and their families.
The call for an inquiry follows a Human Rights Watch report that accuses RCMP officers of abusing aboriginal women and girls in northern B.C., including one allegation of rape.
The alleged incidents were uncovered as part of a broader investigation into charges of systemic neglect of missing and murdered aboriginal women along B.C.’s Highway 16, nicknamed the “Highway of Tears.”
The core recommendation of the report is that the federal and B.C. governments participate in a national commission of inquiry into the matter – a measure endorsed by the NDP, Liberals and the Assembly of First Nations.
Idle No More organizer Autumn Eaglespeaker says the new allegations make the need for a national inquiry even more critical.
“Prime Minister Harper cannot dismiss the human rights report calling for a national inquiry into the disappearances and murders of the indigenous women any longer,” she said in an interview with Beacon News.
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Based on her experience as an aboriginal woman and her conversations with other women, Eaglespeaker believes the allegations are credible.
“Ideally we would like to believe that these kind of injustices are not occurring, but this human rights report illustrates the gross ongoing mistreatment by [RCMP] officers that believe that they are above the law,” she said.
The RCMP has said it is trying to investigate the allegations, but is being frustrated by the human rights organization, which is reluctant to provide the names of the women who provided the information about the RCMP officers.
Eaglespeaker says she understands why the women would be reluctant to come forward.
“If you have a group of women that have been beaten down and marginalized, and are already fearful for their lives for just speaking about their injustices to a human rights report agency, then why would these women come forth?” she asks.
“They are fearful of persecution, and rightly so, how can one trust to confide in your own abuser?”
There may be as many as 2,000 Canadian aboriginal women who have disappeared or been murdered, she says.
“If it were any other group of women in mainstream Canadian society, this issue would be widespread national attention,” Eaglespeaker said.
“The issue of murdered and missing indigenous women and girls has been kept under the radar for far too long.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper says the government has asked the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP to look into the claims raised in the report.
Canadian Press and Beacon News