Legal groups slam Missing Women inquiry
Three leading BC human rights organizations, Civil Liberties Association, Pivot Legal Society and West Coast LEAF release a new report critical of Missing Women Inquiry issued weeks before Inquiry’s deadline in Vancouver, British Columbia, Monday November 19, 2012, The new report labels the Missing Women Commission of Inquiry (MWCI) a failure. (CARMINE MARINELLI/ 24 HOURS)
The Missing Women Commission of Inquiry squandered its potential to promote healing in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside and was instead tainted by a lack of independence, according to a new paper released Monday by various B.C. legal advocacy groups.
Published less than two weeks before inquiry commissioner Wally Oppal is due to submit his own report to the government, Blueprint for an Inquiry criticized the MWCI for excluding many marginalized women and not engaging in enough community consultation.
“We still hold out hope for the final report, but that really doesn’t address the issue of how the process started,” said West Coast LEAF executive director Kasari Govender, who co-authored the paper along with B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Pivot Legal Society members.
The inquiry examined why police took so long to catch serial killer Robert Pickton as dozens of sex trade workers vanished from the DTES between 1997 and 2002.
The Blueprint paper argues the inquiry was plagued by problems, including unbalanced funding for legal representation and perceptions of independence.
It states these issues were personified by the fact the MWCI hired former Vancouver police officer John Boddie as its executive director and only two independent lawyers were appointed to represent DTES and aboriginal interests.
BCCLA president Lindsay Lyster also cited a “culture of delay” and lack of document disclosures from police as two of the inquiry’s major failings.
The paper noted it took eight years from the time of Pickton’s arrest to when the inquiry occurred and Oppal’s final report will be submitted over a decade after the arrest.