The Vancouver-based Impact on Communities Coalition has filed two new complaints with the United Nations over issues related to the 2010 Winter Olympics.
“One is on civil liberties,” coalition chair Am Johal told the Straight on August 5. He explained that this complaint covers everything from the intensive police ticketing of residents in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside to the passage of an omnibus bylaw allowing the City of Vancouver to restrict assembly and free speech. It also cites the alleged harassment of activists by the RCMP–led Vancouver 2010 Integrated Security Unit.
The second complaint deals with tenancy issues. The city is allowing homeowners to rent out rooms during the Olympics, but according to Johal there is no adequate protection to prevent tenants from being evicted before the Games.
“The complaints that we filed today won’t be heard until April of 2010,” Johal said by phone on July 31 from Geneva, after he submitted the complaints at the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights. “This is going to be after the Olympic Games, but our intention is to get into a long-term dialogue about human rights.”
In April 2008, the coalition, along with Pivot Legal Society and the Carnegie Community Action Project, filed a complaint with the UN Human Rights Council over the conversion of single-room-occupancy hotels into tourist suites in the Downtown Eastside, which has displaced long-term tenants.
According to Johal, a UN working group has given the federal government the opportunity to respond to this complaint starting in September of this year.
“One of the issues with the UN complaints process is that it’s a confidential process, and, as such, governments don’t need to publicly present their information that goes forward in an in-camera session,” Johal said.