May 23, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
(416) 363-0321 ex. 225
CCLA To Intervene In Ashley Smith Inquest On Tuesday
Ashley Smith, Isolated but not Alone: at the inquest, CCLA will demonstrate the systemic nature of issues, will advocate for a broader protection of human rights, and will argue on Tuesday for freedom of expression and of the press
TORONTO, May 23, 2011 – Just before the start of the Ashley Smith Inquest, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) was granted, at its request, limited standing to participate as a party at the Inquest. On Tuesday May 24th, CCLA will be arguing on a specific motion, for freedom of expression and freedom of the press in order that the inquest proceed in an open and fair manner.
The Ashley Smith Inquest concerns the death of a young woman aged 19, who had mental health issues, and who died in prison under the watch of correctional officers, after years of segregation (solitary confinement).
Ashley Smith’s case was unfortunately not an isolated one. Given the large proportion of people with mental health issues in prisons, and given the systemic nature of the issues that Ashley Smith faced, CCLA is participating in this inquest in order to provide a broad civil liberties and rights perspective to the matters at issue.
CCLA’s participation in the inquest is intended to address the following issues: the vulnerability and societal marginalization of inmates (in particular, those with additional disadvantages such as youth and those with mental health issues); the right of all people to dignity and equality; the fact that people with mental health issues should not be incarcerated in inappropriate facilities and without adequate health services and safeguards for their needs; that certain forms of discipline -including physical force, solitary confinement and institutional transfers – need to be reconsidered and limited in many circumstances; and more.
CCLA is also participating in the inquest in order to assist the inquest’s role to increase public awareness and ensure full and open public scrutiny. This is especially important since Ms. Smith’s death occurred in a prison and outside public view.
On Tuesday, the inquest will be dealing with media access to documents and exhibits, and the showing of faces in videos. CCLA will be arguing for a robust protection of freedom of expression, freedom of the press and the open courts principle.
CCLA is represented at the Inquest by Allison Thornton and Shashu Clacken of Koch Thornton LLP.
For more information:
Penelope Chester (CCLA) Office phone (416) 363-0321 ex. 225 or cell phone (647) 822-8764 or by email email@example.com
Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Director of CCLA’s Equality Program at 416-363-0321 x226