Soleiman Faqiri – another comeback

On December 4, the day after we posted “A comeback – No-Fault Murder?”, a letter arrived over MCSCS Minister Marie-France Lalonde’s signature responding to ours of November 6, published here on November 12 in “No-Fault Murder?”

“…..regarding the death of Mr. Soleiman Faqiri,,,, ,” she began, “….as you know, the police investigation has concluded. Questions about this decision and the police investigation should be directed to the Kawartha Lakes Police Service. Although the police investigation has concluded, the ministry’s internal investigation of the circumstances surrounding Mr. Faqiri’s death remains active. As such, it would be inappropriate for me to comment on specific details of the internal investigation, including staff discipline, while it is underway.

On November 3, 2017, Dr. Paul Dungey, Regional Supervising Coroner for East Region, Kingston Office, announced that an inquest will be held in the death of Mr. Faqiri. The inquest will examine the events surrounding his death. In addition, the jury may make recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths. Details regarding the date and location will be provided at a later date when the information becomes available.”

Minister Lalonde ended by asking for our patience “while the ministry’s investigation and the inquest into the death of Mr. Faqiri continue.”

Do you know how often a provincial or federal minister overseeing a part of Canada’s prison industry has said much the same as Ms Lalonde? Do you know how many millions of dollars have been spent to come up with “recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths?” Do you know how little has ever been done to implement inquest recommendations?

That’s worth repeating to the minister:

February 2, 2018

The Honourable Marie-France Lalonde,
Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services,

Re: Soleiman Faqiri

Dear Minister Lalonde:

Your December 4, 2017 letter in response to mine of November 6th is appreciated, and I accept that its composition was the only pathway you had. However, you underpin the status quo.

You suggested I question the Kawartha Lakes Police Service about its investigation into Mr. Faqiri’s death. A police spokesperson contacted me after receiving a copy of my letter, referring me to the Office of the Independent Police Review Director to pursue a complaint. That is a waste of good paper.

As for an inquest, do you know how often provincial and federal ministers overseeing Canada’s prison industry have claimed these will make a difference? Do you know how many millions have been spent to come up with “recommendations aimed at preventing similar deaths?” Do you know how little is done to implement inquest recommendations?

Minister, when did you last execute an unannounced and unheralded inspection of a penal institution, be it at 2pm on a Monday, 8pm on a Friday, or 3am on a Sunday? When did any of your senior staff, or any minister in your position or senior staff in this country do likewise? We need that, and we need progressive unambiguous legislation, coupled with at-arms-length authorities to prioritize compliance.

Without that, we are simply peeing into the wind.

Yours truly,

Charles H. Klassen

We copied Kathleen Wynne, Nasir Naqvi, and Renue Mandhane.

Meanwhile, Fatima Syed, a Toronto Star staff reporter, published “Family of man who died in jail looking for answers a year later”, on December 15 of last year. “Why is the government so afraid to tell us the truth?” asks Soleiman’s father, Ghulam.

The family is pro-actively insisting on accountability and transparency, asking the same questions over the last year. “Why was Soleiman killed while in government care? Why was he found with 50 injuries on his body? Why haven’t any of the guards been held accountable for the three-hour confrontation that was caught on a video they still haven’t seen?”

The government denied the family and their lawyers’ request for information about Soleiman’s final moments before he died. A month before, the Kawartha Lakes Police Service advised them by email that no criminal charges would be laid. “It is very difficult to not feel like the family is being stonewalled,” said one of their legal team.

The “Justice for Soli” campaign, a group of Ontario university students, along with the family, held a vigil on that day at Yonge-Dundas Square in Toronto to mark the anniversary of Soleiman’s death. 50 people laid 50 white roses on his photo for the 50 bruises on his body. Earlier in the day, the family gathered at Soleiman’s grave in Ajax in remembrance. He would have turned 31 at the end of December.

And then, along came another Star Fatima Syed entry on Wednesday, February 7th, with a front-page headline, “Jail guard tag team involved in subduing mentally ill inmate,” and a deck, “Reports obtained by the Star detail what happened in the hours leading to Soleiman Faqiri’s death after a fight with correctional officers in 2016.”

The long and detailed account is based on documents the paper received through a freedom of information request, and is material from the police investigation of Soleiman’s death, and the files of the ministry, jail, and members of its staff.

Lawyers for the Faqiri family call what they’ve read ‘very troubling,’ but what is most telling for seasoned observers of the country’s penal systems is this extract from Ms Syed article: “Interviews (by the Kawartha Lakes police) of other inmates didn’t provide much information, said the report, as jail guards had closed the hatches to the doors of each inmate’s cell, thus preventing them from looking out into the common hallway or getting involved.”

We’ve passed a comment on to the Star’s reporter.

The Ontario government’s priority is to get past this, pursue a quiet and expedient resolution, and move on……’til next time.

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Canada killed Matthew Hines….

….just as we said last June.

A persistent and distressed family, along with CBC News, and journalists like the Toronto Globe and Mail’s Patrick White would not accept Correctional Service of Canada’s explanation that Matthew Hines died from a drug-induced seizure, and died despite the efforts of CSC staff members to save him.

Correctional Service of Canada lied. Our prison industry killed this man, and then tried to cover it up.

33 year-old Matthew Hines died in Dorchester Penitentiary on May 26 in 2015. Since then, we’ve published “What say you, Minister?” September 25, 2016, “Matthew Hines died. Chapter the second.” October 2 of 2016, and “Matthew Hines’ death was a homicide…..” on June 4, 2017.

On Wednesday, January 3 of this year, New Brunswick RCMP charged two prison guards with manslaughter and criminal negligence causing death. Alvida Ross, 48, and Mathieu Bourgin, 31, had been on administrative leave since the investigation began, but the two men will not appear in Moncton Provincial Court until the end of February.

The particulars around Matthew’s ordeal will not be reviewed again here, but after 2 ½ years, four investigations, and a determined Hines’ family, the death was ruled a criminal act. A spokeswoman for Correctional Service of Canada said the agency co-operated with the investigation and is committed to “learn from Mr. Hines’ death and continually work to improve our response to individuals in medical crisis.” This is CSC’s necessarily politically correct position, and it’s not the first time it has made this statement, and it’s not the last.

Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger released his own report on this death-in-custody last May, citing numerous “staff errors and omissions”, and criticized all levels of CSC, from correctional officers to senior staff for releasing misleading information and denying accountability. “Nearly everything that could have gone wrong in a use of force response went wrong,” the CI report said.

The Hines family is grateful for the work done to get at the truth, but rightly suggests that responsibility for Matthew’s death goes well beyond the two men accused. That includes, for example, an inexperienced duty nurse who did not even check the inmate’s vital signs, in spite of the man’s obvious medical distress. The family nonetheless accepts the decision to charge only two employees, but “we trust that all who saw Matthew before and during his death look in the mirror every day with the knowledge of what they did and did not do.”

And, as we’ve noted twice before, the family has a lawyer. This is going to cost every Canadian taxpayer.

Remember that Matthew had to die for this to get so much attention. What would we know if he had survived this assault? What do we know about the experience of other inmates who’ve been subject to the same treatment?

A comeback – No-Fault Murder?

…..unexpected, but one more reason to persist.

The November 12 post, No-Fault Murder?, included the November 6 letter to Ontario’s correctional service minister Marie-France Lalonde, challenging the decision not to lay charges in the death of Soleiman Faqiri. Eight parties were copied.

Within days, Will Herbert, Inspector of Support Services for the Kawartha Lakes Police Service, and one of the copied, responded by email:

“The City of Kawartha Lakes Police Service acknowledges receipt of correspondence from you dated November 6th, 2017. Please be advised that the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) manages public complaints against police. Should you wish to formally pursue your complaint, the OIPRD can be reached at……

….the website followed….the message concluded….

Feel free to contact me if I can of any further assistance.
Best regards”

Innocent enough, but this is a circumstance that involves the unnecessary loss of life. And, the loss of a citizen’s life at the hands of public servants no less. Every opportunity to comment should be exercised.

We waited a few days:-

“Thank you for your November 9 email in response to my November 6 letter to Ontario’s Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services, and which was copied to KLPS. This was not so much a complaint against the Kawartha Lakes Police Service or any of its members but more a part of an ongoing social media conversation around the fraternal cooperation among civil servants to avoid accountability. I hesitate to use the stronger language I hear from parties whose frustration leads to rash judgments, although I can understand the irritation.

No doubt, Mr. Faqiri’s family has legal representation, and whether or not an inquiry into his death is held, we can be certain a settlement with a non-disclosure clause is in the works.

In the meantime, there is no point in approaching the OIPRD with a complaint addressing the investigation at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay.

What is the point, and what is more important here, is using what faculties we have to move public opinion.

I appreciate you taking the time to write.

Yours truly…..”

The ‘stronger language’ referenced in the message includes the word COLLUSION, which can be justified with certainty, but needs the weight of that public opinion to have any hope of impact.

We know the drill……stand up, speak up, etc., etc.,

ONTARIO – Get with it II!

……continued from November 5.

“There is a need to reinforce the commitment to Charter rights throughout the correctional practice.” This was Howard Sapers’ studied response when asked if Ontario’s jail system complied with the Charter.

Sapers, Ontario’s independent corrections adviser, had just released his 240-page report for the province’s Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, and was answering media questions about its contents. It was October 3rd, and the ministry was working on prison legislation it intends to table by the end of the year……’labouring’ is how the Globe’s Patrick White saw the agency’s reaction to calls for reform.

Sapers’ report makes 62 recommendations he claims the province must implement to keep its commitment for a rights-based jail system. This is his second report since the province retained him last year after his long stint as Canada’s federal correctional investigator. The review issued in May revealed the misuse and overuse of solitary confinement for mentally ill inmates, and the negative impact of long-term isolation on that vulnerable population.

This latest report is wide-ranging and detailed, covering all facets of jail operation. “I’m pushing them very hard,” Sapers said during his Queen’s Park news conference, referring to the work he expects of MCSCS. “The recommendations are very achievable.”

“My goal is to bring forward most of Mr. Sapers’ recommendations either through legislation or as we move forward,” was the response from Corrections Minister Marie-France Lalonde.

That is not only easier said than done, but the minister’s endorsement is not what we should have expected, given Sapers’ mandate. His team found numerous differences between existing MCSCS policy, and practice. As an example, the inmates-complaints policy says all inmates have access to “formal and informal complaint procedures.” This just isn’t so, and only one provincial institution had a dedicated process for grievances.

Health care, which often drives most inmate complaints, indigenous over-representation, and the availability of rehabilitation programs came under scrutiny. However, it was family visits, inmate-death investigations, and the parole process that were targets for particularly strong comment in the report.

All Ontario institutions are maximum security, except for one that is classified as medium; there are no minimum security provincial jails in Ontario. This compromises attempts to initiate progressive policies for family visits and parole provisions. As for deaths in custody, the Sapers team learned the ministry doesn’t follow up deaths in jail with a “thorough, fully arm’s-length and independent review” process. There weren’t even any definitive figures on the number of deaths in Ontario’s jails for the last decade.

What should stand out in this report, and what should concern us all, and what is worth repeating, is that difference between policy and practice in public institutions. We have civil servants who are apparently unable or unwilling to act according to instructions from their superiors, and are at times flouting the law.

Compliance and enforcement and oversight are in short supply, and substantial consequences for failures are non-existent.

And, we shouldn’t expect Ontario to be significantly different than other Canadian jurisdictions.

No-Fault Murder?

“No charges in mentally ill man’s death at Lindsay jail” headlined Fatima Syed’s piece in the October 31st Toronto Star, referring to the in-custody beating death of Soleiman Faqiri at the Central East Correctional Centre on December 15, 2016.

To quote: “The Kawartha Lakes Police Service told the family in a brief email sent on Friday that the conclusion of an investigation into the death of Faqiri, 30, had been reached after a thorough analysis of all the evidence and witness statements, and after consulting with the Office of the Crown Attorney and medical experts.”
No charges would be forthcoming.

Oh, really?

Further, that “the family has responded to the email with shock, anger and most of all, confusion.”

You think?

November 6, 2017

The Honourable Marie-France Lalonde,
Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Service,
18th Floor, 25 Grosvenor Street,
Toronto, ON M7A 1Y6

Re: Soleiman Faqiri

Dear Minister Lalonde:

“You’re kidding”, is a polite reaction to the news that no charges will be laid in the beating death of Soleiman Faqiri at Central East in Lindsay in December of 2016.

Quite simply, this man was alive on the morning of December 15 last year, and in custody at a provincial jail. There was a three-hour-long ‘interaction’ with a dozen or so uniformed public servants. By day’s end, this man was dead.

Enclosed is “No detective needed!”, an October 8th illumination of December 15, posted on turnoverarocktoday.com,, and composed in the greater part by a guest writer. Look at the site too for “Soleiman Faqiri…..one for the ages” posted October 15.

I wonder. Is it the uniforms the investigators couldn’t see passed?

Frankly offended,

Charles H. Klassen

cc Kathleen Wynne – Premier, Province of Ontario
Nasir Naqvi – Attorney General, Province of Ontario
John Hagarty – Chief of Police, Kawartha Lades Police Service
Renu Mandhane – Chief Commissioner, Ontario Human Right Commission
Douglas Houghton – Superintendent, Central East Correctional Centre
Nader R. Hasan – Ruby, Shiller, Chan, Hasan
Matt Galloway – CBC, Metro Morning
Fatima Syed – The Toronto Star
turnoverarocktoday.com

Tens of thousands of Ontarians know where culpability lies here. The greater tragedy is the reticence of so many to challenge the judgement of their civil servants.

How many times does this need to be said… We must stand up. We must speak up. We must act up. Or, we must pack up!

ONTARIO – Get with it!

The Ontario Human Rights Commission reached a binding ‘landmark’ legal settlement with Ontario’s Ministry of Community Safety & Correctional Services in September of 2013 in support of inmate Christina Jahn’s complaint that she had spent 210 days in solitary confinement at the Ottawa-Carleton Detention Centre, where she endured cruel and inhumane treatment because of her gender and mental illness.

Among what were called “public interest remedies” to address the treatment of women and mentally ill inmates in provincial jails, MCSCS committed to prohibit placing mentally ill inmates in segregation except under extreme circumstances, plus a greater monitoring of segregation practices, and the development of enhanced mental health screening. In addition, every inmate sent to segregation was to be given a handout, a booklet explaining the conditions of a solitary placement, and the rights, recourses and resources available.

Not much happened, despite the agency’s claim to the contrary.

MCSCS was taken to task again, and again it claimed to be moving forward with what it had agreed to do. Admitting to the ministry’s shortcomings though, Minister Marie-France Lalonde insisted work was underway to correct them.

Since the settlement was reached four years ago, 11 people have died in Ontario segregation units. What’s more, Howard Sapers, Canada’s former federal correctional investigator who is acting for the province to report on the state of provincial jails, and recommend improvements, issued findings on solitary confinement in May of this year. It showed the segregation of mentally ill inmates had increased in the years since the Jahn settlement.

Renu Mandhane, Ontario’s head human rights commissioner, told a news conference in the fall that, “when the province signs on the dotted line, it should be held accountable for its promises.”

And so, on September 26, 2017, the OHRC took new legal action, asking the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario to expedite an order for the government to implement the terms of the agreement it had voluntarily accepted. The human rights commission intends to press for an speedy resolution.

This is one further example of why policy around our prison industry operations needs to be enshrined in legislation, and not left to the whims of mandarins in the public service.

Ontario…..a place to stand, a place to grow? How about a place where the government keeps its word, and does what’s right!

Correctional Service Canada……

….keeps breaking its own rules, year after year after year.

Another archived file is a Canadian Press release from July 16, “Failure to comply with video taping rules for use-of-force incidents ‘alarming’: correctional investigator.”

Canada’s new Correctional Investigator, Ivan Zinger, is picking up where Howard Sapers left off, and has been publicly vocal in his criticism of CSC when and where the agency doesn’t measure up. The standards Mr. Zinger applies are not only the best practices in force in other jurisdictions, but CSC’s own procedures.

Of the 1,436 use-of-force incidents by guards against prisoners reviewed by the correctional investigator’s office in fiscal 2016-2017, there was a problem with video evidence about 67% of the time. Note this applies only to those cases where the OCI was informed and subsequently took a decision to become involved, and not where use-of-force was not reported, or where no records exist.

CSC policy says that guards must use hand-held video cameras when use-of-force is planned, and as feasible in spontaneous situations. Statistics show there’s a problem with compliance in both circumstances.

To quote from this press release on the absence of video evidence:
“One recent example is the case of Timothy (Mitch) Nome, who alleged guards in March at Kent Institution in Agassiz, B.C., beat him in his cell without provocation. The independent investigator from Zinger’s office found no hand-held video of the incident was available for reasons not properly explained.
The lack of video evidence that could have proven or refuted Nome’s allegation left the investigator with little choice other than to say he couldn’t conclude what happened in Nome’s cell that morning, his report shows.”

Compliance has improved in the last few years, but issues such as delays in getting cameras to where they’re needed even when resources are available, not recording pre-incident briefings, and not filming decontamination practices where chemical agents have been employed, continue to plague the process.

“This is behind the wall and it’s always very secretive so there’s even more of a necessity that you follow policy with respect to video evidence,” Zinger said. “It’s to the benefit of everybody to make sure that cameras are used appropriately.”

Wouldn’t you think that consequences follow failures to comply with directives? What would the Union of Canadian Correctional Officers recommend as a remedy?

As for Correctional Service Canada, spokesperson Laura Cumming wouldn’t comment on the data in this report as the agency hasn’t verified the information. She also said policy breaches are not tolerated and would be investigated.

Correctional Service Canada spokespeople always say policy breaches are not tolerated and would be investigated. They say it over and over and over, year after year.