section 32(4)

INTRODUCTION AND BRIEF DESCRIPTION

A person can use reasonable force to suppress a riot if they believe serious mischief will result before a peace officer can attend.

SECTION WORDING

32(4) Every one who, in good faith and on reasonable grounds, believes that serious mischief will result from a riot before it is possible to secure the attendance of a peace officer is justified in using as much force as he believes in good faith and on reasonable grounds, (a) is necessary to suppress the riot; and (b) is not excessive, having regard to the danger to be apprehended from the continuance of the riot.

EXPLANATION

Section 32(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada is a provision that outlines when using force to suppress a riot can be justified. This provision is designed to protect individuals who find themselves in a situation where a riot is occurring, and there is no police presence or where it is impossible to secure the attendance of a peace officer. In such circumstances, an individual who is acting in good faith and on reasonable grounds has the right to use force to suppress the riot. To be justified in using force to suppress a riot, an individual must believe, in good faith and on reasonable grounds, that serious mischief will result from the continuation of the riot. This belief must be based on objective facts and not mere speculation or assumptions. The force used by the individual must also be necessary to suppress the riot and not excessive, taking into account the danger to be apprehended from the continuation of the riot. The provision is meant to strike a balance between the right of individuals to protect themselves, the property, and the community from the destructive consequences of riots and the state's authority to maintain order and protect the public. It also acknowledges that law enforcement officials may not always be available or may be unable to respond in a timely manner. In summary, section 32(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides that individuals can use force to suppress a riot if they act in good faith, based on reasonable grounds, and if the force used is necessary and not excessive. This section aims to protect individuals and promote public safety while maintaining the reserved functions of law enforcement agencies.

COMMENTARY

Section 32(4) of the Criminal Code of Canada provides a framework for individuals to act in good faith and use force to suppress a riot before the attendance of a peace officer is possible. This provision recognizes the reality that riots can quickly spiral out of control and cause serious harm to individuals, property, and public safety. The first requirement for using force under this provision is that the individual must have a reasonable belief that serious mischief will result from the riot. This is an objective standard, and the individual must be able to demonstrate that they had sufficient facts and information to justify their belief. The idea behind this requirement is to prevent individuals from using force based on unfounded fears or stereotypes. The second requirement is that the force used must be necessary to suppress the riot. This means that only the minimum force required to achieve the intended result should be used. The individual must also be able to show that they had no other reasonable option available to them. For example, if the individual could have called the police or sought assistance from others, they may not satisfy this requirement. The third requirement is that the force used must not be excessive, considering the danger to be apprehended from the continuance of the riot. This requirement balances the need to use force to suppress the riot against the potential harm and damage that may result from the use of force. The individual must weigh the risk of continuing violence against the risk of harming individuals or causing damage to property. Overall, Section 32(4) provides a limited justification for individuals to use force in situations of public disorder. It is not a license for vigilante justice or violence, and individuals must act in good faith and on reasonable grounds. While the provision may be relevant in rare and extreme circumstances, it remains the role of the police and other authorized agencies to maintain public order and enforce the law.

STRATEGY

Section 32(4) of the Canadian Criminal Code provides a legal justification for using force to suppress a riot when the presence of a peace officer is not immediately available. However, this provision must be examined carefully when considering how law enforcement should strategically approach situations where rioting is expected or underway. One critical consideration when dealing with Section 32(4) is the potential for abuses of power. The law is intended to allow necessary force to be used to contain a dangerous situation, but there is always the risk that it could be used as a pretext for excessive violence or targeting of specific groups. This risk is heightened when the use of force is authorized outside the immediate presence of a peace officer who would ordinarily be able to provide oversight and accountability. Police agencies must be proactive in training their officers on the proper application of Section 32(4) and ensuring that any incidents involving force are thoroughly and impartially investigated. Another key consideration is the importance of de-escalation techniques. Law enforcement should prioritize efforts to prevent a riot from occurring in the first place, such as through dialogue with community leaders and targeted messaging to potential participants. If a riot does take place, officers should be trained in techniques for managing the situation without resorting to excessive force. This could include physical barriers to contain the crowd, use of non-lethal weapons such as tear gas or rubber bullets, and employing a judicious use of force only when necessary. Strategic considerations in the use of force under Section 32(4) must also take into account the potential for public backlash and civil unrest. The use of force, even when legally justified, can inflame tensions and lead to further violence if not handled properly. Law enforcement should be prepared to communicate effectively with the media and the wider community to explain their actions and ensure that the public understands the rationale for any use of force. One strategy that could be employed to mitigate the risks associated with Section 32(4) is to establish protocols for the use of force during riot situations. These protocols could include guidelines for when and how force can be used, as well as requirements for reporting and documenting any use of force incidents. By establishing clear and consistent procedures, law enforcement agencies can minimize the risk of abuses of power and ensure that officers are appropriately trained and equipped to handle riot situations. Ultimately, the use of force in any situation is a complex and highly contextualized decision. Law enforcement agencies must be prepared to balance the need for maintaining public safety with the need to respect human rights and avoid excessive use of force. By carefully considering the strategic implications of Section 32(4) and implementing appropriate protocols and training programs, law enforcement can help to ensure that the use of force in riot situations is both effective and ethical.