Police watchdog data, Atlantic restrictions lifting; In The News for July 3

In The News is a roundup of stories from The Canadian Press designed to kickstart your day. Here is what's on the radar of our editors for the morning of July 3 ...

What we are watching in Canada ...

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An analysis of data from civilian police watchdogs in Canada shows their investigations rarely result in charges against officers.

Charges were laid or forwarded to Crown prosecutors for consideration in three to nine per cent of the cases opened by the provincial agencies, a review by The Canadian Press of their most recent annual reports largely covering 2018 and 2019 found.

Seven provinces have independent police oversight agencies that probe cases of death and serious injury that could be the result of police action or inaction, however, the data was incomplete for some units.

Erick Laming, a PhD candidate at the University of Toronto who studies police use of force and its impacts on Indigenous and Black communities, said the numbers can be interpreted in two ways.

They may be taken to mean that watchdogs cast wide nets in their investigations and officers in most cases were justified in their use of force. But they can also be seen as evidence that the agencies are toothless against a legal system that makes it difficult to prosecute officers, he said.

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Also this ...

The four Atlantic provinces are lifting travel restrictions within the region today, with an agreement that's causing a mix of anxiety and excitement among people in the region.

Residents of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Prince Edward Island can now travel to any of the other three provinces without self-isolating for 14 days after arriving.

The premiers of Newfoundland and Labrador and New Brunswick have hinted restrictions could soon be lifted for visitors from the rest of Canada if all goes well.

Some residents have criticized the so-called "Atlantic bubble" over fears the novel coronavirus could re-emerge in the region, but health officials are encouraging people to trust the science behind the decision and keep following health measures.

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What we are watching in the U.S. ...

Three American defence contractors held for five years by leftist rebels in Colombia moved closer to collecting on a $318 million judgment against their former captors after a U.S. Supreme Court justice rebuffed a last-minute appeal by a sanctioned Venezuelan businessman whose assets they seek to claim.

Justice Clarence Thomas refused to hear an emergency appeal by Samark Lopez, letting stand an order by a federal appeals court immediately turning over $53 million from the businessman's previously seized U.S. bank accounts while the lower court judgment is being contested.

The decision came to light Thursday in a report by Russ Dallen, the head of Caracas Capital Markets, which closely monitors litigation involving Venezuela. Attorneys for Lopez are now pinning their hopes on an emergency appeal filed Tuesday to Justice Sonia Sotomayor in accordance with Supreme Court rules.

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What we are watching elsewhere in the world ...

South Africa's reported coronavirus cases are surging.

Its hospitals are now bracing for an onslaught of patients, setting up temporary wards and hoping advances in treatment will help the country's health facilities from becoming overwhelmed.

The spike comes as the country has allowed businesses to reopen in recent weeks to stave off economic disaster after a strict two-month stay-at-home order worsened already high unemployment and drastically increased hunger.

In Johannesburg, the largest city, health officials said they are considering reimposing some restrictions to try to slow the spread of the virus.

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Today in 2001 ...

Acclaimed Canadian writer Mordecai Richler died of cancer in Montreal at age 70.

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This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 3, 2020.

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