Indefinite solitary confinement is 'torture,' say civil liberties groups

May 14, 2018
Article Source
CTV News

Indefinite solitary confinement for prisoners is causing extreme psychological harm, including post-traumatic stress disorder and suicides, and amounts to torture, say civil rights groups who are pushing the federal government to act on recent court decisions.

Courts in Ontario and British Columbia ruled in December and January respectively that so-called administrative segregations violate the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, but the federal government has taken no action except to appeal the B.C. decision, says Michael Bryant, executive director of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.

"We are here to expose the truth and the truth is that the Government of Canada is fighting in the courts for the right to put mentally ill and Indigenous people in a torture box," he said at a press conference in Ottawa. He said inmates are being thrown into segregation with no due process.

Bryant said although the federal Liberals made it an election promise to end the practice, "this government seems to be led by the nose by justice officials and the lock-them-up law and order mentality seems to prevail."

He said when a prisoner violates prison rules, such as acting violently or threateningly, there is an adjudication process and a segregation sentence imposed. But under administrative rules, prison officials can lock prisoners in solitary confinement indefinitely if they are deemed a security risk.

There is no proof required, prisoners have no access to counsel or an adjudication process and there is no hard cap on time served.

Civil rights groups want to see adjudication within days of a prisoner being segregated and a maximum stretch imposed of 15 days. That's the point after which experts have determined that permanent mental and physical damage can result.

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