The Human Rights Approach to Addressing Racial Profiling: The Activity of the Ontario Human Rights Commission

AuthorShaheen Azmi
The Human Rights Approach
to Addressing Racial Prof‌iling
The Activity of the Ontario
Human Rights Commission
shahEEn azmi*
In 2015 the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) embarked on a
new round of activity in response to ongoing concerns of racial prof‌iling.
This activity ca me in the shadow of more than a decade of activity aimed
at curbing and preventing racial prof‌iling and grow ing recognition of new
shapes and forms of racial prof‌iling in multiple sectors and settings.
The Ontario Human Rights Commission employed multiple approaches
in responding to racial prof‌iling since 2002 . Racial prof‌iling has long been
understood as a type of racism but its framing as a type of illegal dis-
crimination in violation of human rights legislation was not signif‌icantly
developed in Canada prior to the OHRC’s work.
In 2002 a series of articles by the Toronto Star on race and policing
in Toronto provided fresh evidence of the reality of racial bias in police
activity by the Toronto Police Service.1 In direct response to the contro-
versy raised by Toronto Star articles, the OHRC announced that it would
conduct an inquiry into the ef‌fects of racial prof‌iling. Racia l prof‌iling was
def‌ined for the purposes of the inquiry as “any action undertaken for
* Shaheen Azmi i s the director of policy, education, monitori ng, and outreach at the
Ontario Human R ights Commission.
1 Jim Rankin et a l, “Singled Out; Star Analy sis of Police Crime Data Shows Justice Is
Dif‌ferent for Blacks and W hites” Toronto Star (19 October 2002), online: w ww.thestar.

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