The history of police interrogations is not without its unsavoury chapters. Physical abuse, if not routine, was certainly not unknown. Today such practices are much less common. …

Iacobucci, J., speaking for a majority of the Supreme Court of Canada in R. v. Oickle, [2000] 2 S.C.R. 3 at para. 34

Canadian society cannot tolerate -- and the courts cannot permit -- police officers to beat suspects in order to obtain confessions. Yet, sadly, that is precisely what happened in this case. …

Blair, J.A., speaking for a unanimous Ontario Court of Appal in R. v. Singh, 2013 ONCA 750 at para. 1

In Canada, the state is not permitted to use violence or threats of violence to elicit information from a suspect.

In Oickle, supra, the Supreme Court of Canada sent a clear message that a statement that is the product of “imminent threats of torture” (para. 48) or “outright violence” (para. 53) will be inadmissible against a suspect.

The use of violence during a custodial interrogation may also lead to a judicial termination of the charges against a suspect. For example, in Singh, supra, the Ontario Court of Appeal imposed a stay of proceedings in relation to charges of robbery and unlawful confinement after the police subjected the accused to repeated acts of physical violence during the course of a custodial interrogation, including striking the suspect in the back of the head and grabbing and squeezing the suspect’s throat

An officer who uses violence against a suspect during an interrogation may face criminal charges, administrative disciplinary proceedings, and a civil lawsuit for financial compensation. Pursuant to section 269.1(1) of the Criminal Code of Canada, an investigator who uses torture to obtain a statement from a suspect is liable to imprisonment for up to fourteen years.

Other considerations:

When providing emergency legal advice at the time of arrest, counsel should not overlook a client may have previously resided in country where torture is a state-sanctioned tool of persuasion. As a standard practice counsel should assuage any client concerns that they will be hurt or threatened by the police if they choose to exercise their right to remain silent.

 

< Back