Deaths in prison: often censored investigation reports, says ombudsman

y-eu-65-deces-etablissementsA study prepared by the Office of the Correctional Investigator says the Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) regularly censors the possible errors or deficiencies documented in the investigation reports sent to the relatives of prisoners who died in a detention center for federal.

In a document released Tuesday, the Ombudsman Howard Sapers said his office compared the uncensored reports received CSC with highly redacted versions obtained by eight families under the laws on access to information.

According to the study, the current practice of excluding errors, deficiencies and non-compliance policy leaves little room for consideration of the facts by the public, the obligation of accountability and recourse to justice .

Heading Left in the dark, the 38-page document is the result of a study carried out last year after some families were complaints to the office of Mr. Sapers about their difficulty in receiving information on the death of a close occurred in prison between 2013 and 2015.

“It is very difficult for me to conclude that all withdrawals that I reviewed in this study were justified. I think there are some withdrawals that the Correctional Service of Canada will have to explain, “said Howard Sapers interview.

There were 65 deaths in federal correctional institutions in 2015-2016.

A message posted Tuesday on the CSC website reveals that the agency currently is analyzing the findings of the Ombudsman and the development of a response.

CSC recognizes that “it is possible to do more to facilitate the process of disclosure and ensure that bereaved families have easy access to those resources and services that could be useful in their community.”

“Therefore, we will take steps to ensure an appropriate level of commitment between family members and CSC staff, service providers and other stakeholders well equipped to assist and support the next of kin when information is him releases. ”

The study of Mr. Sapers says the adviser’s office concluded that the redaction of certain passages in seven reports prepared by a committee to investigate unnatural deaths completely changed the context of the information provided.

But the paper argues that the most worrying aspect is the removal of delicate extracts that could undermine CSC officials did not follow policy.

Howard Sapers said he believes this censorship amounts to a misuse of laws on access to information and privacy, since the decision whether to disclose the information of public interest is at the discretion of the Commissioner CSC.

According to Mr. Sapers, there are legitimate reasons to redact the reports delivered to the families as protect the privacy of the deceased cellmates or avoid publishing information that could compromise the investigation. However, he added that withdrawals should be minimized and should not prevent relatives of whether the management of the institution has adopted measures to prevent deaths.

The study of the Ombudsman makes nine recommendations, including one claiming that the medical reports of natural deaths and investigative reports on unnatural deaths are consistently communicated to families.

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