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Vanoc violating Olympic commitments: IOCC

The Impact on Communities Coalition (IOCC), an unofficial Olympic watchdog group, released its Olympic Oversight Interim Report Card today, awarding a D-minus to VANOC, government partners, the Integrated Security Unit, the Vancouver Police Department, and Vancouver Coastal Health on their progress in social commitments outlined in the Inner-City Inclusive Agreement, the Olympic Bid Book, and the Multi-Party Agreement.

"The one reason that we didn't go with an F grade is that there is still time to make positive developments and move forward on the promises," Pivot Legal Society lawyer Laura Track told reporters on Sunday. "We hope that when we publish our next report closer to the time of the Games, we can have a more positive outlook."

The report card, the product of an eight-month collaboration between the IOCC and academics, students, community advocates, and legal experts, focuses on civil liberties, accountability, and transparency issues related to the 2010 Games. The report suggest that VANOC and government partners have "departed markedly" from Olympic bid commitments, which include:

1. Pledging to increase bylaw infraction tickets given to the homeless in the 2008 and 2009 VPD business plans

2. Installing hundreds of security cameras that may stay in place after the Games without public debate or discussion

3. Overstating threats to justify civil liberty violations against protesters

4. A lack of consultation with inner-city residents

5. The access of homeless to services in restricted areas, particularly near Olympic venues such as GM Place

6. Lack of process for public complaints against security force members

7. Lack of due process/police intervention for illegal evictions

8. No funding for an independent watchdog group

David Eby, who directs the BC Civil Liberties Association, was particularly critical of the decision to close local courts for a ten-weeks period.

"This is a two-week sporting event," Eby said. "It is not an excuse to keep people in jail for 10 weeks."

The IOCC has operated as an unfunded Olympic watchdog group since 2002. The group plans to hold public forums on civil liberties and housing in June 2009.

A final pre-Games report card from the IOCC is in the works for January 2010, followed by a post-Games report for publication in September 2010.

"We need to get our priorities straight around this," Eby said. "We need to make sure the concerns of the community are heard, and it's my opinion that the Integrated Security Unit and those who are organizing security around these Games are still not hearing concerns of the community."

A copy of the report card will be available for download at the IOCC site.

Jackie Wong reports for the WestEnder

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