Montreal - Fourteen criminal investigations were launched Thursday into alleged rapes of aboriginal women by uniformed Quebec policemen in their patrol cars, including several victims who have since been reported missing.
The women said they were beaten, handcuffed and raped, and later dumped on the side of logging roads far from home in the frigid cold, their cellphones busted.
Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard announced the provincial police probes after accusations were made by several women in the media. It will be up to prosecutors whether to lay charges after reviewing the cases.
Public broadcaster Radio-Canada said eight officers in the remote Val d'Or region, about 500km north of Montreal, were the target of the investigations.
"It's unacceptable to use your position or powers to sexually assault women, particularly vulnerable women," said Quebec Public Safety Minister Lise Theriault. She also announced a review of the province's rape laws.
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The accusations come days after Justin Trudeau's Liberals defeated the Tories in legislative elections. Trudeau has promised to hold a national inquiry into more than 1 000 murdered or missing aboriginal women.
Outgoing Prime Minister Stephen Harper long resisted calls for an inquiry, seeing the disproportionate number of deaths and disappearances as resulting from domestic violence.
He has said these tragedies are not due to a sociological phenomenon but rather are crimes that should be investigated by police.
Native leaders and activists have been calling for an inquiry for more than a decade, since dozens of prostitutes went missing in Vancouver's seedy Downtown Eastside and were later determined to have been victims of a serial killer.
A 2014 report by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police identified 1 181 murdered or missing aboriginal women dating back to 1952. Of these, 120 homicides and 105 missing cases remained unsolved.
In most cases, the perpetrators were known to the victims.