Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Anti-G20 protester launches constitutional challenge

By Antonia Zerbisias Toronto Star Nov. 15, 2010

Montreal’s Jaggi Singh, one of dozens of community organizers arrested
even before last summer’s G20 protests began, has launched a
constitutional challenge against his bail conditions.

Although most of his co-accused have had similar restrictions imposed on
their actions and movements, Singh, a noted anti-globalization and social
justice activist, is the first to take the constitutional route.

He is to appear Wednesday in Ontario Superior Court, with the support of
PEN Canada which is intervening in his case, citing that Singh’s right to
freedom of expression has been violated.

“The conditions are being used in a very exaggerated punitive way to
simply make the process of being charged the actual punishment,’’ said
Singh, who faces charges of conspiracy to commit mischief and conspiracy
to assault and obstruct police.

Aside from $85,000 in bail, Singh’s conditions for release include staying
away from organizing or participating in any demonstrations, not
associating with any of his co-accused, house arrest, the inability to use
any wireless device and not possessing a passport.

“I do a monthly (community) radio show and I have a condition that
prevents me from using a wireless device: Am I using a wireless device?’’
Singh said on the phone from Montreal. “The transmitter on top of Mount
Royal is the ultimate wireless device. Am I allowed to use a laptop with
wireless Internet?’’

Among his many concerns, he said, is that the conditions are subject to
arbitrary interpretation, as co-accused Alex Hundert discovered in
September when he was arrested for participating in a university panel

As for the right to freedom of expression, PEN said: “Preventing someone
from participating in a public demonstration does nothing to ensure the
safety of a single Canadian. On the contrary, the practice of censorship
harms the rights of all Canadians and is repugnant to any society that
values its right to freedom of expression.”

“There is a constitutional right to a reasonable bail,’’ said Singh’s
lawyer, Peter Rosenthal. “We’re saying that the bail conditions were
entirely unreasonable.

“That in our view clearly violates freedom of expression, freedom of
association, and the right to lawful assembly. There’s no possible
justification for any such condition in our view.”

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