Too easy to get warrants intrusive

News 9 July, 2017
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    The defense attorney, Danièle Roy, has denounced for a long time the way in which mandates are granted to the police.

    Hugo Duchaine

    Sunday, 9 July, 2017 08:00

    Sunday, 9 July, 2017 08:00

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    The ease with which police officers appear to have obtained warrants for wiretaps against journalists by giving to judges of affidavits based on gossip and worries of the experts, who see it as a possibility of violation of privacy for all citizens.

    The commission Chamberland on the protection of journalistic sources has been spread publicly, how are the investigators to get warrants allowing them to conduct searches or electronic surveillance. A part of the work of the police which often remains in the shadows.

    “If [the police] have the truth of truncated or sexy, it can make that a mandate will be granted, and that it violates the privacy, a person’s home without having no real grounds, this is very worrying,” says the vice-president of the Association of lawyers for the defence of Quebec, Danièle Roy.

    The mere suspicion of an adventure seemed to be persuasive for the Sûreté du Québec, and to a justice of the peace. The implication that a police officer wanted to sleep with a journalist was suitable for police officers and a judge in Laval.

    In Montreal, a judge does not flinch from seeing articles in the Newspaper as proof to spy on journalists, competitors.

    With these rumors and information manipulated, warrants to search incoming and outgoing calls of reporters have been signed by justices of the peace.

    “We can induce a justice of the peace by omission and there have been cases demonstrated to the commission,” says lawyer Paul Crépeau, participating in the Commission Chamberland. It makes, among other reference to police officers of Laval, who have continued to place in the affidavit that a police officer was trying to sleep with a journalist, even after he had denied it.

    “There is a problem here”, informed Me Crépeau, who understands that these ways of doing can seriously worry the citizens to be victimized in their turn.

    Kids game

    Experts believe that cases of journalists Monic Néron, Marie-Maude Denis and Patrick Lagacé show that it is a kids game for the police to obtain judicial authorization.

    “Some [justices of the peace] we seem to easily sign”, note Me Roy, whose Association has long advocated for a greater control and the possibility for judges to get more details of police officers where their suspicions.

    “This is our battle horse. […] A joke, it is almost happy that it happened to journalists, this is as this system has now brought to light,” she continued.

    “Disgusting “

    “I think it’s disgusting, what they have done. […] The commission has opened a “stick to” and then it overflows everywhere,” says Alexandre Popovic of the Coalition against repression and police abuse.

    The law professor Pierre Noreau also believes that the work of the Commission will ensure that the judges who must grant the warrants will be asking more questions. Without whitewashing the police, he adds that the pressure for the investigation to be concluded quickly can also lead to such gestures.

    The police forces involved have not wanted to comment on their methods, preferring to leave the commission Chamberland finish its work and move its recommendations.

    The disclosure must be “candid and comprehensive”, says a lawyer

    The police are required to make a disclosure “frank and comprehensive” according to the law, reminds us of the lawyer Paul Crépeau, who represents the Court of Québec to the commission Chamberland.

    However, Mr. Crépeau pointed out that in Québec the act to ensure that warrants are obtained during a meeting in private where the police officer is alone with a judge. It has not as the sole information that the affidavit of the police officer and that he may not be a interrogation.

    “The law is made like that. […] It doesn’t take much to get a permission of communications, a police officer must have reasonable suspicion,” he said.

    A bill passed at Ottawa by the Senate should ensure that only a judge of the superior Court or the Quebec to give orders listening experience and electronic monitoring.

    But according to Paul Crépeau, the judges may come to “the same result”, if the law is not changed.

    The police should stick to the essentials when drafting affidavits, abounds the criminal lawyer Jean-Claude Hébert, who denounces the way of the police.

    “When I started to exercise, the affidavits were standing on a page, two pages. Today, there are affidavits of 30-40-50 pages […] “, he laments.

    The judges are going to perhaps “tighten the screws”, believe Me, Hébert to the result of the commission.

    Lack of rigour

    The police officers who have signed these affidavits to spy on journalists have lacked rigor, believes his side, the ex-investigator of the Sûreté du Québec Jean-François Brochu.

    “Someone who doesn’t work as it wouldn’t last long in the field of major crimes,” said Mr. Brochu, who has accumulated 33 years of experience to track down and arrest criminals.

    “One should not say, “I’ve seen such a thing, it means such a case.” We must be content to present the facts as they are and in a term, every fact presented must be supported by a schedule “, says the policeman to retire.

    Even if journalists have been spied upon in the context of criminal investigations, Mr. Brochu asked if the police have been less rigorous, since, according to him, there was little chance of the charges being brought before the courts.

    In the same breath he reminds us that judges must serve as a firewall to protect the public against intrusion or abuse of the police in private life.

    What they said

    Journalists controlled and experts have raised their doubts and their fears before the commission Chamberland on the ease with which warrants were granted, and the police have, meanwhile, sought to defend themselves.

    “I was stunned by reading the 23 affidavits that I had touched upon by the band. I was stunned by the half-truths that were there, I was stunned by the things sometimes false, which were presented to the judges.”

    – Patrick Lagacé

    “The commission is concerned, more particularly, to the collection inevitable to personal information about third parties, whether they are journalists or simple citizens, who have nothing to do with police investigations, and who are not suspected of any crime. All the more that this type of collection is done without the knowledge of the people, so that they have no way of knowing that their information is being collected. And therefore, one can also say that they do not have the means to complain about, since they are not aware of.”

    – Catherine Armand, a lawyer of the Commission of access to information

    “Because I had a general plot, and then I wanted to continue with the same general plot, just”, on the subject of the affidavits that referred to always as a police officer wanted to sleep with a journalist, even if he himself had denied.

    Sergeant Hughes Goupil de police de Laval

    “How a person was she able to say this to the investigator and what is the question that has been asked by the investigator to validate the veracity of this ragot coffee machine?”

    – Marie-Maude Denis