The Canadian justice system is fraught with racism that disproportionately impacts Black people and communities across the country, resulting in racial profiling, harsher sentencing, mistreatment in prison, denial of services, and other injustices which can be compounded for people with intersecting identities (e.g. Black Muslims, Black 2SLGBTQ folks, etc.) On March 21, 2020 — the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination — Amnesty International Canada will raise awareness and advocate for the elimination of racial discrimination in policing.
Carding is when police officers stop, question, and document individuals without any evidence that they have been involved in, or have knowledge of, an offence. Bias and stereotyping play into the officers’ decisions of who to stop and why, which affects many racialized groups, but especially Black people.
Here are 5 reasons why carding should be banned:
1. It’s racist
Carding is a form of systemic police racism that disproportionately impacts Black people in Canada. Carding can often be the first point of contact that can lead to further mistreatment, violence, and racism within other segments of the justice system as well as negative mental and physiological health outcomes.
2. It violates human rights
Racism in policing, including carding, violates many rights outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, such as:
Article 3 on life, liberty and security of person;
Article 7 on equal protection without discrimination before the law;
Article 9 on arbitrary detention, arrest, or exile;
Article 13 on freedom of movement;
and the list goes on.
3. It doesn’t prevent crime
Carding does not lower crime rates and according to Justice Michael Tulloch, “there is little to no evidence that a random, unfocused collection of identifying information has benefits that outweigh the social cost of the practice.” Negative impacts on racialized groups, and particularly on Black individuals, far outweigh any supposed benefits that police claim result from carding.
4. Existing measures to ban carding haven’t worked
In 2017, some restrictions were introduced to carding in Ontario, but to no avail. Without adequate monitoring and accountability measures, and with loopholes in the regulation’s language, carding is still a regular practice in Ontario. In order to achieve a complete ban on carding, we need strong legislation, monitoring, and enforcement to hold perpetrators to account.
5. We have momentum
Activists and anti-racism organizations have been leading the way on speaking up against this form of racial profiling. Prominent human rights organizations and UN experts have raised the alarm on anti-Black racism in policing, and we should ensure their recommendations are turned into action. A permanent and effective ban on carding is one step towards curbing systemic racism in policing.
Stay tuned for more information about how to take action on International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.