Canada: Highway of TearsFebruary 8, 2013
Royal Canadian Mounted Police Guilty of Abusive Policing, Neglect Along ‘Highway of Tears’
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in northern British Columbia has failed to protect indigenous women and girls from violence, adding to longstanding tensions between the RCMP and indigenous communities in the region. Women and girls Human Rights Watch interviewed also described abusive treatment by police officers, including ‪use of force against girls, strip searches of women by male officers, and physical and sexual abuse. Women who call the police for help have been blamed for the abuse, shamed over alcohol or substance use, and have found themselves at risk of arrest for actions taken in self-defense. Human Rights Watch conducted research along Highway 97 and along Highway 16 that has become infamous for the dozens of women and girls who have been reported missing or were found dead in its vicinity since the late 1960s.‬ The Canadian government should establish a national commission of inquiry into the murders and disappearances, including the impact of police mistreatment on their vulnerability to violence in communities along Highway 16, which has come to be called northern British Columbia’s “Highway of Tears.”