SIU Ends Investigation into Inappropriate Conduct toward Indigenous Female Prisoners

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Legal Update
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PIKANGIKUM – On March 19, 2021, the Ontario Provincial Police reported to the SIU regarding inappropriate conduct by one or more of their members towards Indigenous female prisoners at the Pikangikum Detachment. The SIU launched an investigation and made every effort to identify victims or witnesses of the reported misconduct. However, initial attempts proved unsuccessful. As suggested by the First Nation, the SIU retained the services of Keesic Health Strategies, a First Nations-owned firm that specializes in First Nations Health Projects, to foster trust and rapport between the community and the SIU. The objective was to encourage complainants and witnesses to participate in the SIU investigation.

The SIU Director, Joseph Martino, reviewed the results of the SIU inquiries and determined that the investigation should be discontinued at this time. Despite the efforts of the SIU, no complainants or witnesses were identified. As a result, there was insufficient evidence to proceed with the matter, and the file has been closed.

The SIU remains committed to investigating the conduct of officials, including police officers, that may have resulted in death, serious injury, sexual assault, and/or the discharge of a firearm at a person. All investigations are conducted by civilian SIU investigators. Pursuant to the Special Investigations Unit Act, the Director of the SIU must consider whether the official has committed a criminal offence in connection with the incident under investigation. Depending on the evidence, the Director may cause a criminal charge to be laid against the official where there are grounds to do so, or close the file without any charges being laid. The results of the investigation will be made public. The SIU will consider reopening the investigation if complainants or witnesses come forward in the future.

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