Federal government seeks high court appeal of solitary confinement decision

VICTORIA — The British Columbia Civil Liberties Association says it's preparing for a possible high court legal battle with the federal government over solitary confinement for inmates in Canada.

The civil liberties association and the John Howard Society say they have served notice to be included in a potential Supreme Court of Canada appeal of a recent B.C. court ruling ordering an end to indefinite, prolonged solitary confinement.

Civil liberties staff counsel Jessica Magonet says the Attorney General of Canada has applied to the Supreme Court of Canada to appeal last June's B.C. Court of Appeal ruling that laws permitting indefinite solitary confinement are unconstitutional.

She says if the Supreme Court of Canada decides to hear the appeal, the rights groups have launched a cross-appeal process in an effort to ensure the rights of prisoners are protected.

Magonet says Parliament passed legislation to replace Canada's solitary confinement regime last June, but prolonged confinement periods remain under certain circumstances.

She says the civil liberties association is seeking to have a hard number placed on the number of days an inmate can spend in solitary confinement and recognition of equality rights for Indigenous, mentally ill or disabled inmates.

The federal government did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 5, 2019.

 

The Canadian Press