Supreme Court Will Consider Constitutionality of Enhanced Credit Provisions

The Supreme Court granted leave to appeal of the Ontario Court of Appeal decision R v Safarzadeh-Markhali, which considered the constitutionality of the new enhanced credit for pre-sentence custody provisions of the Criminal Code. Where an accused is remanded into custody pending their trial and subsequently convicted, courts would often apply a credit of 2 days for every 1 day spent in custody to their sentence. There are two main reasons for this: timelines for parole eligibility and statutory release do not take into account time spent in pre-sentence custody, and conditions in pre-sentence detention centres tend to be poor, with overcrowding and no access to programs. Read the rest of this entry »

Regional Psychiatric Centre could face eviction, student group argues

Solidarity for Those in Solitary, a University of Saskatchewan student group that advocates ending the practice of solitary confinement, says that there are legal grounds to close a federal corrections facility that operates on university lands.

Saskatoon’s Regional Psychiatric Centre is a tenant of the university. The group argues that its ongoing use of segregation could be grounds for eviction under Saskatchewan’s community safety laws.

Dan LeBlanc, a third-year law student, explained that under Saskatchewan’s Safer Communities and Neighbourhoods laws “[y]ou just have to prove that there are activities occurring at the residence which pose a serious and immediate threat to one or more residents of the property.” LeBlanc argues that the use of solitary confinement for mentally ill inmates meets the threshold for eviction.

Officials with Correctional Service Canada declined to comment.

The CCLA and the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies recently filed a petition in the Ontario Superior Court challenging the constitutionality of legislative provisions which permit solitary confinement.

Whole-Life Sentences Not Against Human Rights

The European Court of Human Rights just ruled on an appeal by a UK man sentenced to a whole-life tariff for the brutal murder of three victims.  They decided in a six to one judgment that under the current interpretations of the law, there is no human rights violations in the application of a whole-life sentence.

In 2013, the same Court ruled that whole-life sentences were incompatible with Article 3 of the Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which reads “no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.” However, since then, the allegedly unclear laws regarding whole-life sentences have been clarified by domestic courts which accounts for the change in rulings.

The Court has ruled that as long as there is a “mechanism or possibility for review”, whole-life sentences are compatible with Article 3 of the Convention.

Commentators are saying “the ruling is perhaps more significant politically than it is legally” as the Conservative government had cited the 2013 ruling as impetus to replacing the European Human Rights Act with a domestic British Bill of Rights.

New Bill Threatens Privacy, Liberty and Citizenship

Bill C-44 was tabled by Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney. The Bill named, An Act to amend the Canadian Security Intelligence Service Act and other Acts will have large repercussions on privacy and Canadian citizenship. On January 28th it was reported back to the House without amendment and it received concurrence at the Report Stage in the House of Commons. A motion was also passed on that day in order to allocate no more than one further sitting day for debate of C-44 at both the report stage and third reading.

Read the rest of this entry »

L’affaire Badawi : L’Arabie Saudite sous pression

Jour après jour, le nombre d’organisations internationales qui défendent la libération de Raif Badawi ne cesse de monter.

La semaine passée, le Haut-Commissaire des Nations unies aux droits de l’homme, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a demandé au roi saoudien de suspendre la peine de Badawi. Selon lui, la sanction corporelle appliquée au citoyen de cet État viole la dignité humaine et ne respecte pas la Convention contre la torture.

De son côté, l’Amnistie internationale a lancé récemment la campagne « #jesuisbadawi », à travers laquelle elle exige que les coups de fouet cessent et que Raif soit mis en libéré inconditionnellement. Il faut que l’État saoudien « respecte ses obligations en matière de droits humains et qu’il abolisse la flagellation », argumente l’ONG.

Des manifestations populaires font du bruit.

Selon La Presse Canadienne, un mouvement de protestation est de plus en plus fort à travers le monde. Les ambassades de l’Arabie saoudite font face à des manifestants qui dénoncent le dossier Badawi et la cruauté des peines corporelles.

Blogueur et fondateur du site Free Saudi Liberals, par lequel il défendait la liberté religieuse en Arabie Saoudite, Raif a été condamné en 2012 à 1 000 coups de fouet et 10 années de prison pour insulte à l’islam. Après sa condamnation, sa femme et ses jeunes enfants se sont réfugiés au Canada, vivant depuis lors à Sherbrooke, dans l’est du Québec.

Il est difficile de déterminer si les demandes seront accueillies par les Saoudiens. Au moins, il est clair que la mobilisation vient de remporter une importante victoire : la deuxième séance de flagellation de 50 coups de fouet que le blogueur devait recevoir ce vendredi a été annulée.

Battle for Burnaby Mountain: Part Three (The Protestors)

To read more about the National Energy Board hearings and the City of Burnaby’s legal challenges, read Parts One and Two of this series.

Public protests against the Kinder Morgan pipeline have been making news since September, when workers first cut down trees as part of they survey work. Since then protestors have grown in numbers, and the standoff reached an apex in November when Kinder Morgan won an injunction from the BC Supreme Court. The court ordered protestors to stay away, starting on November 16, from certain areas in which Kinder Morgan was conducting survey work or risk being arrested (2014 BCSC 2133). The BCSC found an injunction to be necessary, and relied on the distinction between legitimate protest involving freedom of expression and that of unlawful activity, as set out in MacMillan Bloedel Ltd. v. Simpson ([1996] 2 SCR 1048). The court found that while there would be some harm to the rights of the protestors, Kinder Morgan’s interests as a private member would be more severely and irreparably harmed, given the substantial costs and potential loss of revenue associated with the delays caused by the protests. A more complete analysis of the legal arguments and defenses presented by both sides can be found here. Read the rest of this entry »

BCCLA + John Howard Society Take Federal Government to Court Over Solitary Confinement in Prisons

The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and the John Howard Society are suing the federal government over the use of solitary confinement in Canadian prisons, describing the practice as “cruel and unusual” in the lawsuit announced Monday morning in Vancouver. Read the rest of this entry »

Battle for Burnaby Mountain: Part Two (National Energy Board and Court Jurisdiction)

See the last blog post for more details about the protracted battle that has been taking place between the National Energy Board and the City of Burnaby.

The City of Burnaby, under the leadership of Mayor Corrigan, has been fighting its own legal battle against Kinder Morgan. Back in November, the National Energy Board ruled that the city bylaws were unenforceable against Kinder Morgan. Since then, the City filed for leave to appeal the NEB decision to the BC Court of Appeal (2014 BCCA 465).  The BCCA refused to grant leave for an appeal on November 27th, finding that the matter should properly be dealt with by the Federal Court of Appeal. In late December, the Federal Court of Appeal also denied the City’s request to appeal the NEB decision, although allegedly no reason for this denial was given. The City of Burnaby’s lawyer, Gregory McDade, Q.C, has been reported as saying “We say that a federally appointed [National Energy Board] has no legal power to strike down [city] bylaws.  It’s never happened in Canadian history.  It’s never happened in Canadian law”. It is unclear whether the City of Burnaby will return to the BC Court of Appeal once again, however it would appear that all legal options have not yet been exhausted.

On January 16th, the City, as an intervener, submitted 200 pages of additional questions to the National Energy Board. In a press release statement, Mayor Corrigan claimed the questions were in response to Kinder Morgan’s 15,000-page proposal, and that they focused on emergency response, environmental impacts, and negative impacts to citizen health and safety. Read the rest of this entry »

Tensions Escalate in the Manus Island Detention Centre

The Manus Island detention centre is an Australian-run offshore processing base for individuals seeking asylum in Australia. Located in Northern Papua New Guinea, the detention centre was created in response to growing numbers of refugee claimants attempting to enter Australia without proper documentation.

In 2013, the governments of Australia and Papua New Guinea introduced the Regional Resettlement Arrangement — colloquially known as the PNG Solution. The PNG Solution prevented refugee claimants from gaining entry to Australia. Instead, the claimants would be re-settled in Papua New Guinea, provided they were, in fact, genuine refugees. Amnesty International “strongly condemn[ed]” the PNG Solution, and stated that the Australian “Prime Minster has shown his willingness to pay any financial costs to bypass humanitarian obligations.”

Beginning in February 2014, reports surfaced regarding the conditions endured by refugee claimants in the Manus Island detention centre. In response to claims of assault, self-harm, medical issues, and allegations of sexual abuse, combined with the murder of Iranian refugee, Reza Barati, human rights groups demanded an independent investigation by the Australia Federal Police (AFP). The AFP refused, claiming that the Royal Papua New Guinea Police was “the most appropriate law enforcement organisation to investigate the allegation.”

Currently, tensions in the Manus Island detention centre have escalated. Protesting asylum-seekers have barricaded the detention centre, preventing staff from entering. As many as 700 detainees are on a hunger strike, and several individuals have sewn their lips shut.

The refugee claimants are protesting the possibility of being re-located in Papua New Guinea, and claim that their lives would be in danger.

The situation continues to evolve. For a current news release, see here.

Un Brésilien sera exécuté en Indonésie dimanche prochain

L’instructeur de vol brésilien Marco Archer, arrêté en Indonésie depuis 2004 pour trafic de stupéfiants, sera exécuté dimanche prochain, indique l’agence Reuters.

Lors d’un voyage en Asie, Archer a été intercepté par les autorités indonésiennes à l’aéroport international de Jacarta avec de la cocaïne cachée dans son équipement de vol libre. Dans un premier moment, il a réussi à y échapper, mais il a été finalement capturé deux semaines plus tard.

Dès la condamnation de l’instructeur, le gouvernement brésilien a fait des efforts dans le sens de revêtir l’application de la peine capitale. L’ancien président Lula et l’actuelle présidente, Dilma Roussef, ont déposé des demandes de clémence auprès des autorités du pays asiatique, en indiquant qu’au Brésil la peine de mort a été abolie au XIXe siècle. Vendredi cependant, au cours d’une conversation téléphonique, le président Widodo a communiqué à sa consœur brésilienne qu’Archer sera exécuté dimanche prochain.

Selon le quotidien O’Globo, la chancellerie brésilienne étudie des mesures pour sanctionner l’Indonésie.

Cela sera la première fois qu’un Brésilien est exécuté à l’étranger.

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