CCLA fighting to preserve segregation challenge and testimony of torture expert

June 27, 2017


June 27, 2017

TORONTO, Ont.  ̶  On Thursday June 29th, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association (CCLA) will be in court to ensure that its Charter challenge against Canada’s solitary confinement regime moves forward. CCLA has already presented valuable evidence and expert testimony to the court. The challenge seeks to protect individuals from the harms of solitary confinement, in particular young adults, inmates in need of protection, and people with mental health issues.

One of the key witnesses in this challenge is Professor Juan Mendez, previously the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Torture and an international human rights expert. Professor Mendez testified that solitary confinement exceeding 15 days constitutes cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment or punishment, and in some cases torture. As such, he concluded, imposing solitary confinement on inmates beyond 15 days contravenes Canada’s obligations under the Convention Against Torture.

Professor Mendez’s testimony, like the challenge itself, must remain before the court, CCLA will argue on Thursday.

Canada is seeking to adjourn CCLA’s constitutional challenge, possibly forever, in light of new legislation – Bill C-56 – An Act to amend the Corrections and Conditional Release Act and the Abolition of Early Parole. However, this bill creates only limited restrictions around the use of segregation in Canadian prisons.

Unfortunately, Bill C-56 does not address CCLA’s key concerns.  “There is no reason to expect that the proposed legislation will put an end to prolonged solitary confinement in Canadian prisons. Nor does it offer anything to vulnerable groups like young adults, those in protective custody, and individuals with mental health issues who should not be segregated for any length of time,” says CCLA’s counsel, Michael Rosenberg of McCarthy Tétrault LLP. “The CCLA’s challenge gives a voice to these people, and it’s a voice that must be heard.”

Lax O’Sullivan Lisus Gottleib LLP and McCarthy Tétrault LLP are co-counsel for CCLA.

Details of the hearing are as follows:
Thursday June 29, 2017 at 10:00am
Osgoode Hall Courtroom 4
Corporation of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association v Her Majesty the Queen
Before Associate Chief Justice Frank Marrocco

Noa Mendelsohn Aviv, Acting Executive Director
416-363-0321 x226