E Fry toronto statement

We are here, one year after Soleiman Farqiri’s senseless death, not simply to remember Soli, but to try to make sense of his death.  What could possibly make sense of Soli’s death?  Answers, accountability and prevention.  This will not bring Soli back, but it may give peace to his family who have been denied answers.   We need to understand what happened to Soli so that we can assure this never happens again!

We know that Soli was a bright young man, who lived with Schizophrenia, who was by all accounts having a mental health crisis while he was incarcerated.  He was waiting for an appropriate hospital bed.  Soli waited three days for treatment.  The family told the staff at Central East Correctional Centre that Soli had schizophrenia that required treatment, not detention yet nothing was done. 

We all know that if Soli was having a cardiac crisis or any other form of health crisis, he would not have been waiting for a bed, but he would have had treatment.  So much went wrong for Soli; I do not know where to begin.  Elizabeth Fry Canada has spoken out against the use of solitary confinement for people with mental health disabilities that put themselves or others at risk while incarcerated. We join the Ontario Human Rights Commission in demanding that the Ontario Government comply with the Code, and end the use of segregation or solitary confinement for people living with Mental Health disabilities.

The OHRC has stated, “We believe the current use of segregation in Ontario’s correctional facilities may be violating prisoners’ rights under the Code. In particular, the OHRC is concerned that segregation is disproportionately used on, and has particularly harmful effects for, Code-protected groups such as Black and Indigenous prisoners, prisoners with mental health disabilities, and women. Racialized prisoners and those with mental health disabilities are already over-represented in the prison population, which many have attributed to systemic discrimination within the criminal justice system.”

We need to work together to ensure that Soleiman’s death was not in vain.  We need to work together to ensure that no one suffers in the way Soli suffered.  We need to work together so that our correctional system works for all of our citizens.  Especially racialized people, women, and people with disabilities, who are currently filling our correctional facilities at an alarming rate.  We need justice for Soli, but just as importantly, we need a just system!

Thank you,

Kelly Potvin,

Executive Director

Elizabeth Fry Toronto

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