Quebec police watchdog to investigate all complaints made by Indigenous people

Quebec's public security minister has announced a change to the way complaints against police will be investigated in cases when they're made by Indigenous people.

New measure will come into effect starting Sept. 17

The bureau of independent investigations will take over all the complaints coming from Indigenous people starting September 17. (Lauren McCallum/CBC)

Quebec's public security minister has announced a change to the way complaints against police made by Indigenous people will be investigated.

Starting Sept. 17, any criminal allegations made against police officers where the alleged victim or complainant is Indigenous will be taken over by Quebec's police watchdog — the independent investigations bureau (BEI).

This will mean the creation of a special investigation unit within the BEI and the hiring of an aboriginal liaison officer who will follow up with complainants and victims and refer them to resources.

The news comes in the wake of the 2015 allegations made by Indigenous women in the Val-d'Or area who said they had been sexually assaulted by police.

Thirty-seven women came forward to file official complaints. None led to any criminal charges.

The bureau began operating in June 2016 with a mission to conduct independent investigations whenever a civilian is seriously injured by a police officer's firearm, or dies as a result of a police intervention or while being detained.

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux announced last year that the BEI would handle all complaints of criminal sexual offences against police.