Ontario to End Use of Segregation for People with Mental Health Disabilities
The Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario issued a consent order requiring Ontario to end the use of segregation for people with mental health disabilities across its correctional facilities, barring exceptional circumstances, on January 16th 2018. The Order was obtained on the consent of the Ontario Human Rights Commission and the Ontario government.
The order arose as a result of an application filed by Christina Jahn, who was placed in long-term segregation at the Ottawa Carleton Detention Centre because of her mental health disabilities and gender.
According to the chief commissioner of the OHRC, Renu Mandhane, “the order confirms that the government must take immediate action to end the segregation of people with mental health disabilities,” and it “includes measures that will keep the spotlight on corrections for years to come.”
The order is a major step towards accountability and transparency and should be celebrated; however, it also raises the question of how the Ontario government will ensure that accountability, transparency, and justice prevails for prior cases- like Soleiman’s.
The HRTO’s order highlights the negligence in care by correctional facilities in Ontario. It also leads to the question of whether Soleiman’s death could have been prevented had the order been issued sooner.
Soleiman Faqiri was killed under government care on December 15 2016. Soleiman’s stay at the Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay, Ontario was meant to be a temporary measure, yet it ended up being fatal. In October 2017 the Kawartha Lakes Police Service (KLPS) announced that no charges would be laid against any Lindsay CECC officers. Several media reports have questioned about whether the police service was far enough removed from the case to conduct its probe impartially.
For Soleiman’s family, other families of victims killed in prisons, the Ontario Human Rights Commission, the legal community, the mental health community, and all Ontarians, the inquest into his death is a litmus test as to whether the Province is seriously committed to transparency and reform.
The Justice for Soli Campaign aims to find transparency and accountability, for the individuals responsible for his death to be charged, and equally important it seeks to be an agent for true reform.