To the government of the city of Vancouver
· The city council should continue to withhold funding for the current operation and similar police crackdowns and should urge the police department not to underwrite such crackdowns with its own budget, until concerns about human rights and health and harm reduction-based programs for drug users are addressed.
· The city government should work with provincial authorities to establish an independent commission to investigate complaints of police misconduct and abuse. The city should not rely on the Vancouver Police Department to investigate allegations of abuse by its own personnel. The commission should have the power to receive and investigate complaints, identify problematic practices and policies, recommend reforms, monitor implementation of its recommendations, and provide the public with reports of its activities and findings. The Vancouver Police Department should cooperate fully with independent investigators affiliated with such a commission.
· Officers of the Vancouver Police Department deployed to high-drug areas should receive training on the basic principles of harm reduction, HIV and hepatitis C transmission, services related to the prevention of blood-borne and sexually transmitted diseases, and the work of the street-based and clinic-based health service providers in the Downtown Eastside. A training program should be established for new officers or officers new to the Downtown Eastside as well as refresher training for all officers.
· The city council should conduct public hearings on police conduct during the current police crackdown, including statements from health service providers and issue findings based on these hearings. The council should be attentive to the need to conduct additional hearings, particularly leading up to the July 2003 announcement of the winter Olympic host city and in the aftermath of that announcement.
· If the government of the city of Vancouver deems it necessary to evaluate the police's current campaign, that evaluation should be conducted by independent researchers with well-established credentials, including public health expertise, rather than by one graduate student, as the Vancouver Police Department has planned. Any evaluation of the campaign should assess, at a minimum, its impact on crime and public safety, the drug market on the Downtown Eastside, harm reduction and health outreach services, and the health of injection drug users.
To the government of the province of British Columbia
· Invite and support an independent evaluation of the functioning of the British Columbia Human Rights Tribunal in the absence of the recently abolished Human Rights Commission, with particular attention to the frequency and types of dismissals of complaints by the tribunal, the handling of complaints by persons unable to afford legal representation, and the disposition of complaints about discrimination on the basis of illegal drug use.
To the federal government of Canada
· Ensure that any federally funded project for a pilot safe injection site contains a mechanism to monitor abuse, harassment and intimidation by local police.
· Amend or clarify provisions of the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act that interfere with needle exchange programs by, for example, criminalizing the possession of syringes containing trace amounts of drug residue.
· Assist the city of Vancouver in establishing a training program on harm reduction and related issues for the Vancouver Police Department.
· Assess the experience of the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, with particular attention to the impact of policing, as a case study to inform the new Canadian Strategy on HIV/AIDS, currently under development.