Vancouver 2010 and Civil Liberties
The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association and Pivot Legal Society are looking for volunteers for Legal Observer teams during the Olympics. They’ll be having training sessions (in fact, their training manual is already online (PDF)):
Legal Observer teams will be observing major protests and other potential conflict hot spots like Olympic venues and the Downtown Eastside. They’ll report observations back to the BCCLA’s team of volunteer lawyers who are prepared to go to court to protect people’s rights where complaints can’t be resolved informally. Our Observers’ first-hand evidence will form a solid foundation for those legal actions. Observers are the watchful eyes that will be focused on police, military and private security conduct to ensure accountability.
The BCCLA has a pretty good roundup of reasons to be concerned about how the Olympics are negatively impacting civil rights:
- The Olympic Torch Run Manual that calls on cities to limit the distribution of political leaflets during the torch run.
- The Clean Venue Agreement that outlines a VANOC swat team that will seize offensive literature on public property, how the IOC required VANOC to prevent anyone other than Olympic sponsors from advertising during the Games, and how private security guards will prevent people from holding signs or wearing clothes with political messages in Olympic venues.
- The Olympic Host City Agreement in which the IOC required the City of Vancouver to prevent international media and attendees at Olympic venues from seeing political speech inside and outside the venues, which was signed by then Mayor of Vancouver Larry Campbell.
- The Olympic Charter in which the IOC dictates at Rule 51 that “No kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas. “
- The Manual for Candidate Cities which demands compliance with the terms of the Olympic Charter for all candidate host cities, including Vancouver, during and after the bid process.
- The Olympic Technical Manual on Media, in which the IOC attempts to limit coverage of the Games to coverage that “by its content, spreads and promotes the principles of Olympism,” and which grants the IOC the ability to withdraw accreditation from any journalist at any time for any reason.
- Letters in which the Olympic Integrated Security Unit and Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) refuse to refrain from using Agents Provocateur or to assume the leadership of activist organizations, following a request from the B.C. Civil Liberties Association to foreswear the tactics. Such tactics may be permissible under certain interpretations of Canadian criminal and constitutional law, but their legality is disputed by the BCCLA.