Section 1. Respect for the Integrity of the Person, Including Freedom from:
There were no reports the government or its agents committed arbitrary or unlawful killings.
There were no reports of politically motivated disappearances.
The law prohibits such practices, and there were no reports that government officials employed them.
Prison and Detention Center Conditions
There were no significant reports regarding prison or detention center conditions that raised human rights concerns.
Physical Conditions: According to the governmental statistical agency’s most recent figures, in 2014-15 there were on average approximately 39,625 inmates, pretrial detainees, and remand prisoners in federal and provincial correctional institutions, which had an official capacity of 38,771. The remand population exceeded the sentenced population. The national double-bunking rate (the practice of confining two inmates in a cell designed for one) in federal facilities was 19 percent in 2013-14.
The federal correctional investigator’s report for 2014-15 identified recourse to “administrative segregation” or solitary confinement by federal correctional services to manage crowded institutions and high-needs inmates as a concern. The correctional investigator, an independent prison ombudsman, urged authorities to cap the time inmates spend in segregation and to develop a policy framework to guide the use of segregation, including prohibiting the use of long-term segregation (beyond 15 days) for inmates with mental disabilities. Correctional Services Canada reported that the number of federal inmates held in solitary confinement for 120 days or more fell from 498 to 247 (a 51 percent drop) from March 2015 to March 2016, in part due to diversion of inmates with mental disabilities to treatment programs as an alternative to segregation.
In May the Ontario ombudsman recommended the government end the practice of extended solitary confinement in provincial prisons. The ombudsman’s report also recommended prison personnel receive training on the mental health effects of long-term solitary confinement and legislated maximums for periods of solitary confinement.
In October the Ontario provincial government transferred an indigenous prisoner out of solitary confinement after he spent more than 1,500 consecutive days in a cell under continuous artificial light for 23 hours each day while awaiting trial. Ontario’s Human Rights Commissioner flagged this case to prison authorities who then moved the man to a different cell. In October the Ontario Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services announced a 15- day limit on the number of consecutive days inmates can be held in solitary confinement (down from the present 30-day guideline), effective immediately. The minister also announced that each detention facility would establish segregation committees that would meet weekly and review the cases of prisoners in solitary confinement. The minister said jails should use solitary confinement as a measure of last resort under the least restrictive conditions available and ordered an independent review of policies and practices in Ontario jails. Advocates for prisoners said the changes were insufficient.
The Correctional Investigator’s Office reported 10 nonnatural deaths (including suicide) in federal custody in 2014-15, the latest available figures.
In July the government of New Brunswick announced it would advise the public when a prisoner dies but would not publish details on the inmate’s death. The change came after media reported 13 persons had died in New Brunswick prisons since 2004, but the coroner reviewed only four of the deaths.
In August the families of two female inmates who died in a Nova Scotia prison filed suit against the federal government for wrongful death. The families alleged prison authorities were negligent in addressing mental health needs of the inmates, both of whom committed suicide in 2015 after stints in solitary confinement.
Administration: Independent authorities investigated credible allegations of inhuman behavior and documented the results of such investigations in a publicly accessible manner.
Independent Monitoring: The government permitted visits by independent nongovernmental human rights observers.
The law prohibits arbitrary arrest and detention, and the government generally observed these prohibitions.
ROLE OF THE POLICE AND SECURITY APPARATUS
National, provincial, and municipal police forces maintain internal security. The armed forces are responsible for external security but in exceptional cases may exercise some domestic security responsibility at the formal request of civilian provincial authorities. The federal Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) reports to the Department of Public Safety, and the armed forces report to the Department of National Defense. Provincial and municipal police report to their respective provincial authorities. The Canada Border Services Agency reports to the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness and is responsible for enforcing immigration law. Civilian authorities maintained effective control over the RCMP and provincial and municipal police forces, and the government has effective mechanisms to investigate and punish abuse and corruption. There were no reports of impunity involving the security forces during the year. Authorities investigated and publicly reported all fatalities that resulted from police action or in police custody.
ARREST PROCEDURES AND TREATMENT OF DETAINEES
Authorities generally apprehended persons openly with warrants. A judge can issue a warrant after being satisfied a criminal offense might have been committed. A person arrested for a criminal offense has the right to a prompt, independent judicial determination of the legality of the detention. Authorities respected this right in practice. Authorities provided detainees with timely information of the reason for the arrest and ensured prompt access to a lawyer of the detainee’s choice or, if the detainee was indigent, a lawyer provided by the state without restriction. Bail generally was available. Suspects were not detained incommunicado or held under house arrest.
Judges may issue preemptive peace bonds and apprehend individuals who authorities reasonably believe may carry out terrorist activities. Judges may also issue recognizances to detain persons and impose bail conditions if authorities deem the restrictions likely to prevent terrorist activity. Authorities may hold persons under preventive detention under recognizance for up to seven days, subject to periodic judicial review. Restrictions may include limits on travel and surrender of passports. Use of peace bonds and recognizance for counterterrorism purposes is subject to annual reporting requirements to the federal parliament.
Pretrial Detention: Authorities released detainees immediately after they were charged, unless a judge deemed continued detention necessary to ensure the detainee’s attendance in court, for the protection or safety of the public, or due to the gravity of the offense. Persons subject to continued detention have the right to judicial review of their status at regular intervals.
The government may detain or deport noncitizens on national security grounds with an immigration security certificate. The government issues certificates based on confidential evidence presented to two cabinet ministers by intelligence or police agencies and reviewed by a federal court judge who determines “reasonableness” and upholds or revokes the certificate. A judge may order an individual detained during the security certificate determination process if the government believes the individual presents a danger to national security or is unlikely to appear at the proceeding for removal. The judge may impose conditions on release into the community, including monitoring. Individuals subject to a security certificate may see a summary of confidential evidence against them. Authorities must provide full disclosure to court-appointed, security-cleared lawyers (special advocates), who can review and challenge the evidence on behalf of these individuals but not share or discuss the material with them. The law establishes strict rules on the disclosure and use of secret evidence, prohibits the use of evidence if there are reasonable grounds to believe authorities obtained the evidence as a result of torture, and provides mechanisms for review and appeal.
Detainee’s Ability to Challenge Lawfulness of Detention before a Court: Persons arrested or detained are entitled to challenge in court the validity of the detention and to obtain prompt release and compensation if the detention is found to be unlawful.
The law provides for an independent judiciary, and the government generally respected judicial independence.
The law provides for the right to a fair public trial, and an independent judiciary generally enforced this right. Trials are held without undue delay before a judge alone or, for more serious cases, before a judge and jury. Defendants have the right to be present at trial and to consult with an attorney of their choice in a timely manner. The government provides an attorney at public expense if needed when defendants face serious criminal charges, and defendants may confront or question witnesses against them and present witnesses and evidence on their behalf. Defendants and their attorneys generally have access to government-held evidence relevant to their cases and adequate time and facilities to prepare a defense. Defendants also enjoy a presumption of innocence, a right to be informed promptly and in detail of the charges against them (with free interpretation as necessary from the moment charged through all appeals), a right not to be compelled to testify or confess guilt, and a right of appeal. The law extends these rights to all citizens.
POLITICAL PRISONERS AND DETAINEES
There were no reports of political prisoners or detainees.
CIVIL JUDICIAL PROCEDURES AND REMEDIES
There is an independent and impartial judiciary in civil matters and access to a court to bring a suit seeking damages for, or cessation of, a human rights violation. Remedies can be monetary, declaratory, or injunctive. Federal or provincial human rights commissions may also hear alleged human rights violations. Individuals may also bring human rights complaints to the UN or the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
The law prohibits such actions, and there were no reports that the government failed to respect these prohibitions.