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For Immediate Release
September 18, 2009
With the first of seventeen criminal charges against Site 41 protesters in court yesterday for a pre-trial hearing, the Council of Canadians is requesting that the Crown drop all charges.“We believe that it is not in the public interest for these prosecutions to continue, and request that the charges be withdrawn by the Crown,” Council of Canadians national chairperson Maude Barlow says in the letter sent to Ontario’s Attorney General, Minister Chris Bentley, today (click here for full version).
Further underscoring the need to drop all charges related to Site 41 protests is the fact that Simcoe County has since voted to suspend Site 41 construction due to concerns raised by the protesters and to withdraw the lawsuit which had been initiated against them.
“Serious questions have been raised about the lawfulness of the Site 41 construction, which had not been properly approved by the municipal council. The municipal council has since recognized the validity of the protesters’ concerns,” notes the letter. “The persons charged are generally law-abiding and well-respected members of their communities, and most are charged with mischief, a relatively minor offence.”
“The fact that only the aboriginal protesters were charged with the more serious offence of ‘intimidation’ raises serious concerns of its own,” reads the letter. “We believe that continuing the prosecutions in these circumstances would be unfair to the individuals charged and would consume scarce prosecutorial and judicial resources that could better be used elsewhere.”
“The Council of Canadians is respectfully asking that the Crown also consider the extenuating circumstances which led to these law abiding and deeply respected people being arrested. If real justice is to be served, these unjust charges need to be dropped,” adds Barlow. “Water is fundamental to all life and access to safe drinking water must be enshrined at all levels of government. Unfortunately, the failure to recognize water as a human right in Canada leaves communities with little recourse when their drinking water is threatened.”
For more information contact:
Dylan Penner, Media Officer, Council of Canadians, 613-795-8685
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