Feeling human…

Oct 22, 2021

 Canada: Abuse, Discrimination in Immigration Detention – Thousands Held; Systemic Change Needed

Canadians have known for some time now of the difficulty of confronting Corrections Canada, in spite of human rights and court orders, to curtail its practice of solitary confinement.  The link presents an even more distressing picture of the use of solitary by immigration officials across Canada.  A joint report from Human Rights and Amnesty International issued in June 2021 called “I don’t feel like a human in there” details the systematic abuses suffered by over 8,000 immigrants a year who are detained, often in provincial jails.  “Immigration detainees are not held on criminal charges or convictions, but many experience the country’s most restrictive confinement conditions, including maximum-security provincial jails and solitary confinement. They are handcuffed, shackled, searched, and restricted to small spaces with rigid routines and under constant surveillance.”  https://www.hrw.org/news/2021/06/17/canada-abuse-discrimination-immigration-detention  Full report:  “I Didn’t Feel Like a Human in There” Immigration Detention in Canada and its Impact on Mental Health  https://www.hrw.org/report/2021/06/17/i-didnt-feel-human-there/immigration-detention-canada-and-its-impact-mental  Related article: CBC News – Raffy Boudjikanian    Federal immigration department employees reporting racist workplace behaviour, says survey –  Feedback from focus groups describes a climate of racially charged ‘microaggressions’   https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/immigration-refugees-citizenship-racism-1.6217886?utm_source=Morning+Brief&utm_campaign=d9d6905c0a-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_2016_12_02_COPY_1200&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a43c5d924a-d9d6905c0a-206962393   Related article:  Reuters News Agency – Use of solitary confinement erodes following lawsuits   https://www.reuters.com/legal/government/use-solitary-confinement-erodes-following-lawsuits-2021-10-15/   (cf Solitary Watch (US) for a weekly news summary around US prison use of solitary:  https://solitarywatch.org/2021/10/20/seven-days-in-solitary-10-20-21/ )

 The Conversation (Queen’s) – Christian Tietz
How a maximum security prison offers a pathway to academic excellence and a PhD

This article comes from New South Wales in Australia but could just as easily be Canada.  A prisoner in a maximum security prison is undertaking internationally recognized studies in support of a doctorate while also training five other prisoners in sophisticated software used in the design industry.  “The jail that enables these endeavours is not the sort we’re used to seeing in popular movies. Features of the Macquarie Correctional Centre include private bathrooms, and beds are in private cubicles in a dorm with a kitchenette. The inmate are afforded privacy and dignity… These are features based on desistance theory of how criminal offenders stop their offending behaviour.”    https://theconversation.com/how-a-maximum-security-prison-offers-a-pathway-to-academic-excellence-and-a-phd-169625?utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Facebook#Echobox=1634682182

Maple Ridge News (BC) – Vikki Hopes
Crystal meth worth $183K located at Abbotsford prison – Package containing the drugs seized Oct. 11 from Matsqui Institution

A CSC press release states that a package containing the drugs (valued at $183K) was found “as a result of the vigilance of staff members” at the medium-security prison.  But CSC offered no further details on how the drug got into the prison, simply saying that CSC co-operates with police in investigating.  It appears that this Oct 11 discovery is the second within a year at Matsqui.  Hopes is also reporting a prisoner assault in the prison on the same day as a Nov. 2020 discovery of another package of the drug worth $153k.  https://www.mapleridgenews.com/news/crystal-meth-worth-183k-located-at-abbotsford-prison/

Ottawa Citizen – Canadian Press
Trudeau urged to make decriminalization of illicit drugs a priority

“Almost 70 organizations from across the country — including the HIV Legal Network, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, and the National Association of Women and the Law — have written a letter to Trudeau asking that he make drug policy reform a priority for his newly re-elected Liberal government… They want drug possession to be immediately decriminalized and all criminal sanctions and penalties related to drug use to be eliminated. And they want federal funding to ensure “low-barrier access” to a safe supply of drugs.”  Contaminated drug in opium supplies contributed to 23,000 opium deaths in Canada between Jan 2016 and March 2021.  https://ottawacitizen.com/pmn/news-pmn/canada-news-pmn/trudeau-urged-to-make-decriminalization-of-illicit-drugs-a-priority/wcm/b722eee5-b39b-4f1a-b620-364813ffdded?utm_term=Autofeed&utm_medium=Social&utm_source=Twitter#Echobox=1634781480

CBC News – Tony Siskus
How a big win for a First Nation in B.C. could bring change for resource development in Canada – Results of legal victory for Blueberry River First Nations being watched by Indigenous leaders and industry

This BC Supreme Court decision, six years in the making, has some powerful implications for all Indigenous people fighting over territorial rights.  The court has ruled that the province was negligent in protecting the rights deriving from the land because of the cumulative impact of so many incursions.  “The Court said the province failed to maintain the nation’s rights to hunt, fish and trap without interference. While no single project had a devastating effect on the community, the court said the cumulative impact of a series of projects limited the nation’s ability to maintain its rights.”   The court has given the province six months to work with Blueberry River First Nations to re-assert the rights in the development management of the land.  BC has decided not to appeal the decision.  https://www.cbc.ca/news/business/blueberry-legal-victory-1.6216915?cmp=newsletter_CBC%20News%20Morning%20Brief_4985_322855

CNN (US) – Jenn Selva, Joe Sutton and Nicole Chave
A Black girl was arrested at school in Hawaii over a drawing that upset a parent

The news media is replete with stories like this one, drawing attention to the false claim that law and law enforcement can solve any problem.  This incident involves a 10 year old girl subjected to gross misconduct of both the school and police.  As usual, once the miscarriage is exposed, the combatants have square off into legal cages from which to resolve the problem, all while a 10 year old is traumatized.  https://www.cnn.com/2021/10/20/us/hawaii-black-girl-arrested-drawing-aclu/index.html  Related article: Pro Publica (US) – Meribah Knight and Ken Armstrong   Tennessee Children Were Illegally Jailed. Now Members of Congress Are Asking For an Investigation.  https://www.propublica.org/article/tennessee-children-were-illegally-jailed-now-members-of-congress-are-asking-for-an-investigation

Domestic Violence Awareness – October – National Resource Centre on Domestic Violence (US)
Turning up the heat

This reminder and a lot of excellent resources are coming from the Domestic Violence Awareness Project.  Resources and events are found at the link, including graphics.  The site encourages an approach they call #Onething and offers a series of six action step initiatives.  https://www.dvawareness.org/1thing

The Lawyer’s Daily – Cristin Schmitz
SCC refuses to give public authorities a sweeping ‘policy’ immunity against negligence claims

The Supreme Court of Canada has made a decision around the liability of public authorities: there can be no sweeping immunity.  “In a key personal injury ruling, the Supreme Court of Canada has provided unanimous guidance on the nature and scope of the public authority “core policy” defence to negligence claims — rejecting expansive interpretations that might have created a sweeping immunity from liability for governments.”  https://www.thelawyersdaily.ca/criminal/articles/30659/scc-refuses-to-give-public-authorities-a-sweeping-policy-immunity-against-negligence-claims?nl_pk=40ed8ea4-637a-4d76-870f-04f0eeae7de8&utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=criminal