B.C. Civil Liberties Association and Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs object to RCMP's "overbroad" exclusion zone

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      Two groups have amended a January 29 complaint to the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP regarding the national police force's actions on traditional Wet'suwet'en territory.

      The B.C. Civil Liberties Association and the Union of B.C. Indian Chiefs have asked the commission to initiate a policy complaint and public-interest investigation into the RCMP's expanded exclusion zone on the Morice West Forest Service Road.

      According to the two organizations, the Mounties' decision to restrict movement from the 27-kilometre mark to the four-kilometre mark lies outside the scope of the B.C. Supreme Court injunction currently being enforced.

      "There is absolutely no legal precedent nor established legal authority for such an overbroad policing power associated with the enforcement of an injunction," the two organizations wrote in underlined text. "The implementation and enforcement of the RCMP exclusion zone in Wet'suwet'en territory is unlawful."

      Coastal GasLink Pipeline Ltd. obtained the injunction to enable it to build a 670-kilometre natural-gas pipeline from northeast B.C. to the LNG Canada plant being constructed in Kitimat.

      "The RCMP are willfully reinterpreting the enforcement order in order to extend their policing powers," the BCCLA and UBCIC stated in their letter. "Attempting to clear an undefined area bordering more than 60 km of roadway of all people and inhabitants is an unreasonable exercise of the discretion granted to police under the enforcement order.

      "The arbitrary RCMP exclusion zone and overbroad access restrictions are completely unjustified and unlawful, and constitute a serious violation of Indigenous rights and jurisdiction, severe deprivation of individual liberty interests, and egregious impairment of Charter-protected rights."

      In the letter, the BCCLA and UBCIC maintain that the "overbroad and arbitrary exclusion zone" grants the RCMP unreasonable and unjustified powers to curtail the constitutionally protected freedom of the media, seize personal property, prohibit the movement of Wet'suwet'en people and their invited guests on the Morice West Forest Service Road, and unlawfully detain and arrest people who are not actually in breach of the B.C. Supreme Court injunction.

      The initial complaint on January 29 was filed along with the Wet'suwet'en hereditary chiefs.