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Senegal claims police brutality against diplomat, Gatineau police says officers were assaulted

Senegal claims police brutality against diplomat, Gatineau police says officers were assaulted thumbnail

File: Gatineau police.
File: Gatineau police. Photo by Ashley Fraser /Postmedia

The Senegalese embassy is alleging police brutality against one of its Ottawa-based diplomats, while the Gatineau Police Service claims an officer was assaulted while helping a bailiff execute an order at the diplomat’s home on Tuesday.

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In a statement posted in French on the embassy’s Facebook page on Friday, it alleges its female diplomat was subjected to “humiliating physical and moral violence” by Canadian police, claiming they had “savagely beaten” her resulting in her hospitalization.

The embassy, which didn’t identify the police service in its statement, called it a “racist and barbaric” act by the police and demanded an investigation. It’s also a “flagrant violation” of the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, the embassy claimed.

Global Affairs Canada said it is “extremely concerned” about the allegations.

“What happened was simply unacceptable,” Sabrine Barakat, a spokeswoman for Global Affairs, wrote in an email to The Canadian Press Saturday.

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Gatineau police released its version of the incident on Friday night.

According to police, they received a call requesting assistance for a bailiff, and patrol officers arrived at 1: 30 p.m. Police said officers verified it was a legal court document and that the legal officer who authorized the order knew the person had diplomatic status. The subject of the court order was identified only as a woman with diplomatic status.

Police didn’t say what the bailiff’s order was for, nor was the location identified.

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“Faced with an aggressive person who refused to cooperate, the police intervened to explain the process and to ensure that everything went smoothly,” police said.

“During the intervention, a policewoman was punched in the face and injured,” according to police. “The police then decided to arrest the person in order to put an end to the offence, for the safety of those present.”

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The person resisted arrest and bit a second officer, police alleged.

“The person was then brought to the ground to be subdued,” police said.

The person was detained in a patrol vehicle, but at no time did that person mention being injured, according to police.

“The same day, shortly after 3 p.m., the paramedics called (the Gatineau police) for assistance when they were working with this person and about ten people were present,” police said.

Police said they sent a file to the provincial Director of Criminal and Penal Prosecutions to consider charges of assault on an officer and obstruction of police. Police said they have discussed the incident with the Quebec Ministry of Public Security.

The police force’s professional standards branch also requested an opinion on whether there should be a criminal investigation into police actions.

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The Senegalese government said the charge d’affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Dakar, the Senegalese capital, was summoned to the Foreign Affairs Ministry so officials could “vigorously denounce and strongly condemn this racist and barbaric act.”

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A note of protest has been sent to the Canadian government, it said.

“The government of Senegal has demanded that an investigation be launched without delay and that charges be brought against the perpetrators of this unacceptable assault, which constitutes a serious infringement of the person’s physical integrity and human dignity, as well as a flagrant violation of the 1961 Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations,” the Senegalese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.

Barakat said Canada takes its obligations under the convention — which gives diplomats immunity from any form of detention or arrest — very seriously.

“We are working diligently with the different levels of government involved and look forward to a thorough investigation,” she wrote. “Minister Joly is in contact with her Senegalese counterpart. Canada will continue to fully cooperate with Senegal to address this regrettable situation.”

With files from The Canadian Press

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