Annual Report

COPCAT Shorts: Québec Ombudsperson Prisons Focus

Conditions of detention in Québec’s provincial prisons have once again come under close scrutiny in the Annual Report 2017-2018 of the Québec Ombudsperson. During this period nearly 5000 complaints concerning prisons were processed by the institution.

Quebec Ombudsperson

Ombudsperson Marie Rinfret presented her report to the National Assembly on 29 November 2018, highlighting various concerns in this respect. These included the following (taken from the report):

  • Due to prison overcrowding, some correctional facilities end up putting as many as three detainees in cells meant to hold one inmate. The situation persists, notably because of a lack of planning regarding the operations surrounding the opening of new facilities.
  • Even though solitary confinement (isolation in a cell for 22 hours or more a day) must be an exception and carried out according to clear-cut guidelines, it may last for periods of up to several weeks if not months.
  • In a report released in March 2018, the Québec Ombudsperson shed light on the consequences of the increase in intermittent sentences in correctional facilities.
  • The measures introduced to curb drone activity over correctional facilities must not infringe on detainees’ residual rights.
  • Detainees cannot exercise their right to vote in municipal and school elections. The Québec Ombudsperson made recommendations aimed at changing this situation.
  • The Québec Ombudsperson’s recommendations concerning detention conditions, the administration of justice and crime prevention in Nunavik are slow to be implemented.

The Québec Ombudsperson’s Annual Report 2017-2018 can be downloaded in full in English.

Posted by mp in Oversight bodies, Prisons

COPCAT Shorts: Canadian Correctional Investigator Speaks Out For OPCAT

… for a number of years this Office has urged Canada to sign and ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OP-CAT) … I understand that consultations have occurred with the provinces and territories concerning potential Canadian accession to the OP-CAT. While there is no doubt that implementing OP-CAT would require each level of government to make legislative amendments as well as changes to the mandates of existing bodies, I am of the view that the necessary legal and policy work should not delay Canada signing onto the treaty … Signing would send the right message and would keep the federal/provincial/territorial consultative process on a defined timetable toward Canadian accession and eventual ratification. Other federated states, with equally complex jurisdictional issues, have ratified OP-CAT, including Argentina, Germany, and, most recently, Australia. Complexity is not an excuse for delays or not doing the right thing.

Dr Ivan Zinger, Correctional Investigator, Annual Report 2017-2018Correctional Investigator Dr Ivan Zinger

Read the Annual Report 2017-2018 in English below or in French here:

Correctional Investigator


Posted by mp in OPCAT, Ratification