Statement on recent reporting by CBC and the Toronto Star
RE: Statement on recent reporting by CBC and the Toronto Star
According to recent news reports in the CBC and Toronto Star on February 20, 2019, unsealed judicial documents confirm that the Toronto Police Service was aware in 2013 that Bruce McArthur was connected to three of the victims whose disappearances were then under investigation.
These reports affirm our belief that the police failed to conduct an effective investigation, and conscious and unconscious racism, classism and homophobia played a significant role in the failure to properly investigate these disappearances.
Given these revelations, ASAAP fully endorses the request by Justice Epstein to the Toronto Police Services Board to examine the McArthur investigation as part of her mandate. That is the right next step for accountability. Upon completion of Justice Epstein’s review, consideration should be given to whether further steps are necessary, including a Public Inquiry.
LINK: Statement February 21_19
Statement on Prides Decision for Police Paricipation
November 26, 2018
RE: Statement of Prides Decision
Now more than ever Pride needs to be a celebration of those stuck at the margins. This is Pride’s history. And as an agency and community, we hope steps will be taken to ensure the safety and inclusion of those among us who are most vulnerable, for various reasons.
As an agency, we strongly believe in community engagement and consultation with our stakeholders. We feel Pride did not adequately consult the community about its decision. ASAAP has taken the leadership on addressing the alleged serial killer circumstances in the city and have made great strides with support from the community.
We have engaged in meaningful work with the mayor’s office, Toronto police and the police services board and community to advance systemic change. This is work we will continue to do while engaging everyone in meaningful dialogue to ensure a best possible outcome for systems and community.
Haran Vijayanathan Executive Director
Advocacy Update on Missing and Allegedly Murdered South Asian and Middle Eastern Men
The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP) would like to provide an update to the community and public on the actions that we have taken since our statement on January 24, 2018. Most significantly, the Mayor has endorsed our request for an independent review into how the Toronto Police Service (TPS) handles missing person investigations, with a focus on concerns affecting the LGBTQ, South Asian, and Middle Eastern communities.
On February 14, 2018, the Executive Director of ASAAP, Haran Vijayanathan, and Board Member, Shakir Rahim, met with Mayor John Tory and presented three requests:
1. The Toronto Police Service should publicly release the findings of the internal review into TPS missing persons investigations.
Our first request was implemented by a motion passed by the Toronto Police Services Board on February 22, 2018.
2. The Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB), the independent civilian body that oversees the TPS, should commission an independent review into the adequacy and effectiveness of TPS missing persons investigations. Our second request is in progress. The Mayor has told us that he endorses this request. The Toronto Police Services Board has passed a motion that public feedback will be collected on the Toronto Police Service internal review report, once released, over 120 days. Our understanding is that public feedback will be collected for the purpose of informing the mandate of an independent review commissioned by the TPSB.
An independent review is necessary to ensure impartiality and fairness into any assessment of TPS operations. Without such a review, public trust between the police and community will deteriorate further.
ASAAP will continue to advocate for timely action on this request, and the involvement of the LGBTQ community in formulating the terms of reference and selecting the third-party who will conduct the independent review.
3. The Toronto Police Services Board should, upon the completion of the legal proceedings of Bruce McArthur, publicly commit to an independent review of how the missing person investigations into his alleged victims were conducted by the Toronto Police Service.
Our third request is in progress. ASAAP plans to further review and discuss the appropriate option for accountability on individual cases. We will continue to engage with the community at every possible opportunity and provide updates on our advocacy.
On behalf of the Alliance of South Asian AIDS Prevention,
Haran Vijayanathan Suchita Jain Executive Director Board Chair
For comment please contact Executive Director Haran Vijayanathan at firstname.lastname@example.org
Call for Action on Missing South Asian and Middle Eastern Men
The Alliance for South Asian AIDS Prevention (ASAAP) is the only registered HIV/AIDS service organization in Ontario that serves South Asian and Middle Eastern communities living with and or affected by HIV. We were founded by members of the South Asian LGBTQ+ community over 29 years ago. We are the only registered non-profit organization in Ontario supporting the South Asian LGBTQ+ communities and work alongside many collectives and groups that continue to serve the South Asian and Middle Eastern communities.
It is a tragedy to hear of the deaths of Selim Esen and Andrew Kinsman. Andrew was a valued member of the HIV/AIDS non-profit sector and ASAAP had the privilege of working with him through the Toronto HIV Network. We express our deepest sympathies to the family and friends of Andrew and Selim.
Given our roots in the community, we have an important perspective to offer on the recent cases of missing South Asian and Middle Eastern persons. We believe that the Toronto Police Service failed to provide adequate resources and effort in their investigations of the disappearances of Skanda Navaratnam (2010), Abdulbasir Faizi (2010), Majeed Kayhan (2012), and Selim Esen (2017). The disappearances of Navaratnam, Faizi, and Kayhan remain under investigation. Despite the initial public outcry, outreach and demand for an investigation in 2010 and then again in 2012 – Project Houston drew no conclusion for these victims. We hope that answers will come to light soon.
It is saddening and unacceptable that it took the disappearance of Andrew Kinsman to reopen public interest in the cases of the missing South Asian and Middle Eastern men. Families and friends of the respective men were not given the closure that they deserved in a timely manner. We strongly emphasize that racism and homophobia are systemic issues that affect every part of our society. A different standard of justice for racialized and LGBTQ+ people is the reality in our city and province.
Public trust between the Toronto Police Service and the LGBTQ+ South Asian and Middle Eastern communities is at risk. In order for the Toronto Police Service to foster a constructive relationship with the communities we represent, we call on the Toronto Police and City of Toronto to commit to the following actions:
The Chief of the Toronto Police Service must ensure that the ongoing internal review into the investigation of missing persons examine whether the race or perceived sexuality of the men mentioned above led to inadequate investigations. The review must be publicly released.The Toronto Police Services Board must commission an external review by a third-party into the adequacy of the TPS investigations into the cases of Mr. Navaratnam, Mr. Faizi, Mr. Esen and Mr. Kayhan. The review should explicitly consider whether the race or perceived sexuality of the missing men affected the resources and quality of the investigation into their disappearances. The findings of the external review must be publicly released and acted upon.
ASAAP believes in being part of the solution. We remain committed to:
Facilitating ongoing discussions with the Toronto Police Service and other organizations to ensure there is a strong understanding of our communities, and to find strategies to address future cases.Providing education and training to members of the Toronto Police so that they understand the unique issues facing South Asian and Middle Eastern LGBTQ+ communities. Such understanding is necessary for the Toronto Police to carry out their duties in a sensitive and timely fashion.In the event the remains of the missing South Asian and Middle Eastern men are found, and family or friends are not able to claim them, ASAAP will work with the Coroner’s office to claim them and ensure their appropriate interment.
Haran Vijayanathan Suchita Jain Executive Director Board Chair