A Pie in the Sky view of the Eye in the Sky

A May 15, 2011 report issued by the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) concludes that Internet access must be recognized as a human right. The report, entitled Report of the Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of the right to freedom of opinion and expression, Frank La Rue (report A/HRC/17/27) urges, among other things:

Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all States.

The report also states that:

States [should] ensure that individuals can express themselves anonymously online and to refrain from adopting real-name registration systems.

Given that North American and British governments – those bastions of freedom – have made numerous moves in recent times to curtail Internet freedom, we can readily imagine that the dust has already begun to settle on this report.

Human Rights complaint where the complainant alleges wrongdoing by her own father

Christina Farrell was an officer with the Barrie Police Service when she suffered an assault in the workplace that led to a miscarriage. She claims that she was severely beaten after being directly ordered to enter the cell of a rowdy female inmate – known to police as potentially violent – even though she reminded her superior that she was pregnant. Within a few hours of the beating, she began to suffer severe bleeding and miscarried. She further required emergency surgery.

The event is said to have occurred in 2001.

According to a March 17, 2011 article in the Toronto Star, the senior Farrell is said to have told his daughter that if she was smart, she would “just shut [her] mouth, and pretend like it never happened, or it would affect her career as well as look bad on him.”

Farrell also alleges that while she was still a rookie cop, she suffered a sexual assault at the hands of another police officer, allegedly a friend of her father – Inspector Jim Farrell. She says she did not report the incident because the perpetrator was her father’s friend, and because “no female reports sexual harassment in the police without being labelled a rat and being ridiculed for it.”

Farrell specifically lays accusations that her father created a poisoned work environment and alleges that she eventually left the policy force because of stress, which she attributes partly to her “father’s authority on [her] husband”. Her husband, Nathan Bowman, is also an officer on the Barrie force and directly reports to Farrell’s father.

The Farrells have been estranged for several years. There is no indication of why Ms Farrell waited so long to file her complaint, but Barrie Police Services and her father have declined to discuss the case since it is before the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario.

Posted by Paul Harris

Employer in Ontario wins Appeal against Human Rights Tribunal

The Divisional Court found numerous deficiencies in both the “reasons” and “the process” of an HRTO Hearing that found that the employer had been discriminatory in a number of ways. These deficiencies were so significant, that it was “not possible to say that this was a fair hearing, nor that the findings of discrimination were reasonable”. In one instance, the Divisional Court stated that the HRTO’s finding was simply based on a “bald conclusion that is unsupported by any factual findings”. The now overturned October 7, 2009 HRTO decision found that the employer’s policies for dress code and rules for using the microwave were discriminatory. The Adjudicator also found that employer’s method of discipline was discriminatory and the employer failed to properly accommodate her religious attire. Finally, the Adjudicator also concluded that given all of this other discrimination that occurred, some degree of “discrimination” must have contributed to the dismissal itself. The employer no longer has to pay the $36,000 award and the employee is ordered to pay $10,000 in damages. The case is remitted back to the Tribunal for another hearing. The decision as a “whole is fatally flawed”, “patently unreasonable” and should be set aside. The entire decision will be enjoyable for employers to read.

Link: Divisional Court Decision

Link: HRTO Decision

Posted by Cézanne Charlebois