03 Jul 2024

Open Letter : Juripop is not to blame

La Presse has published a series of articles concerning events that took place during the political simulation of the Quebec Student Parliament (PEQ) in January 2023. We would have preferred to say nothing to avoid dragging out the matter, but there are misconceptions splattering Juripop that, in our view, require clarification.

Open letter published in La Presse by Pascale Pageau, lawyer and Chair of Juripop’s Board of Directors.

 

According to the facts reported, on January 4, 2023, a PEQ participant was approached by someone she mistook for another person. This encounter provoked a strong reaction in her, described as a panic attack. The Board of Directors of the Student Parliament Association (APEQ) decided to expel the participant without taking his side of the story. The participant feels that he was unfairly treated and smeared at the time, and is now suing APEQ and its six directors for damages.

According to one witness, the decision to expel him was based “on the expertise” of another PEQ member, a Juripop employee.

However, the person in question is a paralegal who works at Juripop part-time, during his studies; he has never been trained by Juripop to give his expertise in relation to the management of a denunciation, and was participating in the PEQ in a personal capacity without any particular legal role.

We dissociate ourselves from any decisions that may have been taken on the basis of his links with Juripop.

As we are in the habit of contributing constructively to public debate, let’s try to be helpful and see how such situations should be approached.

 

The #MeToo Effect

Almost seven years after #metoo, sexual violence is no longer tolerated and is increasingly reported to the authorities, which is a positive development in society. Many organizations have adopted policies to prevent it, but not all are large enough to have qualified and competent people in their ranks to deal with these situations with diligence, compassion and respect for the rules of law, for both the complainant and the respondent.

Generally speaking, policies to prevent sexual violence involve the following steps: the person in charge of the policy notes the complainant’s version of events; a chronology of events is drawn up and summarized for the respondent, who gives his or her version of events; witnesses are interviewed; the person in charge then draws conclusions and makes recommendations in accordance with the applicable legal rules.

This process is based on the fundamental principle of “procedural fairness”. This is what guides Juripop in such situations.

Juripop was not present on January 4, 2023, but this is what would have been suggested by the organization had its advice been sought.

Juripop specializes in legal support for victims, because we believe that a specialized practice is necessary to strengthen their confidence in the justice system. We firmly believe that this approach can and must be compatible with the fundamental principles of the justice system, including procedural fairness, truth-seeking and proportionality of sanctions. These are the cardinal principles that must guide organizations working to ensure the safety of complainants, while respecting the rights of those concerned.

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