Dozens of organizations condemn OPP for no charges laid in t

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Dozens of organizations condemn OPP for no charges laid in t

Postby Thomas » Tue Aug 18, 2020 5:34 pm

Dozens of organizations condemn OPP for no charges laid in the death of a mentally ill man

More than 60 groups including legal, mental health advocacy and faith-based organizations across Canada have issued statements condemning the Ontario Provincial Police's decision this month not to lay charges in the death of Soleiman Faqiri.

Faqiri, 30, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was found shackled, face-down on a jail cell floor in handcuffs with a spit hood placed over his head, according to an investigation by Kawartha Lakes police.

When he was discovered by guards, Faqiri was unresponsive. A coroner's report later ound that he had more than 50 signs of "blunt impact trauma" across his body, including injuries to his neck.

s first reported by CBC News last week, the OPP decided not one of the six or more guards who allegedly beat Faqiri would be held criminally responsible for his death inside a segregation unit at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont. on Dec. 15, 2016.

On Friday, Yusuf Faqiri told CBC News that despite the family's anguish at the OPP's decision in his brother's death, they are heartened to see so many organizations and Canadians support them.

He says the number of organizations that have spoken out is indicative of what he calls the OPP's "failure" to serve justice, and that his family will continue call for charges to be pressed, he said.

"It says that Canadians want accountability and transparency," he said. "This isn't just about myself and my family... this is about a young man who had a mental illness who was killed within the justice system," he said

When asked about its decision at the time, the OPP told CBC News that "various possible explanations exist" for Faqiri's injuries.

"After a thorough assessment of the available evidence, it has been determined that there is no reasonable prospect of conviction on any criminal offences," the force said in its statement.

Since then, advocacy groups including the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association and the Schizophrenia Society of Canada have all released comments decrying the OPP's decision not to lay charges.

Public figures including Senators Peter Boehm and Kim Pate, along with MPP Rima Berns-McGown have published statements as well.

Instead of receiving appropriate treatment for his mental illness, Faqiri was brutalized, said Chris Summerville, CEO of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada in a public statement.

"People living with severe mental illness should not be placed in prisons, but rather receive the proper treatment and help in a forensic hospital," said Summerville. "We are deeply disappointed that justice has been delayed and denied for the Faqiri family," he said.

OPP's investigation prompted by coroner inquiry into death

At the time of his death, Faqiri was waiting for a mental health assessment at Ontario Shores Centre for Mental Health Sciences at the time before his death.

The provincial police opened a new investigation into the case around January 2019 after the local Kawartha Lakes Police Service brought forward no charges and after the family raised questions about whether the force was far enough removed from the Lindsay jail to be objective in its investigation.

But last week, the family and their lawyers say they were told by the OPP that no one will be held responsible, as it's impossible to know who among the guards did what leading up to Faqiri's death.

"The message the OPP is sending to the world here is that if you're going to murder someone, do it in a group," lawyer Nader Hasan told CBC News earlier this month.

Along with the coroner's report that detailed many injuries, but no cause of death — the OPP's investigation contained an eyewitness account from an inmate whose cell was across from Faqiri's.

He came forward in 2018, and those details prompted the coroner's office to express concern that criminal charges should be laid, according to the family's lawyers

That witness, John Thibeault, told CBC's The Fifth Estate that a guard pressed his knee into Faqiri's neck.

"They viciously beat him to death," Thibeault said.

While the provincial correctional ministry would not provide comment this month regarding the OPP's decision not to press charges, citing an ongoing coroner's inquest, Faqiri's family is in the midst of a lawsuit against the province. They are suing for $14.3 million dollars over the "excessive force" they allege killed Faqiri.

Prior to being diagnosed with a mental illness at the age of 18, Faqiri was a straight-A student and captain of his highschool football team. He first moved to Canada from Afghanistan in 1993.

Following his diagnosis, which came after being in a car accident, Faqiri had to drop out of school at the University of Waterloo and had incidents with the law as he tried to stay on top of his medication, CBC News has previously reported.

He was charged with aggravated assault and uttering threats after allegedly attacking a neighbour in Ajax, Ont., on Dec. 4, 2016.

Instead of a mental health facility, he was taken to the jail in Lindsay and died eleven days later. ... -1.5687539
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With justice denied to Soleiman Faqiri, his family are force

Postby Thomas » Mon Oct 12, 2020 3:57 am

With justice denied to Soleiman Faqiri, his family are forced to suffer their loss over and over again

I was listening to a podcast with French sociologist Rachida Brahim called "Racism Kills Twice," when I heard the news that Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) will not charge the alleged killers of Soleiman Faqiri.

How would Faqiri's mother feel? I tried to imagine the pain of losing a son in horrible circumstances and later hearing the news that no one would be held accountable.

"Racism kills two times: first when the physical and verbal violence is exerted against the mind and body of the victim, and second when that violence or abuse is denied or not held accountable by the authority. That would leave the victim lost, without a sense of purpose," explained Brahim speaking about the double violence that she argues racialized people suffer from when they become caught in an oppressive system.

Personally, I think Faqiri was killed several times. When this 30-year-old man, diagnosed at the age of 19 with schizophrenia, was taken to the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, his family thought that his troubles with the law were, as it happened a few times before, "benign," and that all he needed was mental health supervision and support.

But Faqiri was let down by the system. He died on December 15, 2016.

That tragic story could have ended with an apology, or at least some explanation. But it didn't. Due to the tremendous efforts and persistence of the brother of the deceased, Yusuf Faqiri, the family was able to dig further into the tragic circumstances of this horrible death. In 2016, in an interview with CBC, Yusuf repeatedly asked the same questions: "We want to know why my brother died," "Why did Soleiman die?" "How did Soleiman die?"

Holding up information from the family. Putting the onus on the family to find out exactly what happened before and after the death of their loved ones. These are other ways to "kill" the victim again. To deny them the rest and peace. To prevent the family from finishing their mourning. This is what the system did.

Initially, the answers were scarce. Worse, they were not given straightforwardly by the authorities to the family. They came bit by bit, through investigative journalism and legal efforts, but mainly through the family's activism.

First came the coroner report. It indicated that Soleiman Faqiri died inside a segregation cell at the detention facility following an altercation with guards. He was found with dozens of injuries, including blunt force trauma. The report mentions "obvious injuries," but the cause of the death remained "unknown." And when the family asked for accountability, their demands were left unanswered.

More disappointment came when after conducting an investigation, the Kawartha Lakes Police Service decided to not lay charges.

The decision came after years of fighting for answers, and after a nearby inmate housed just across from Soleiman's cell at the time of the incident broke his silence with an eyewitness account. The pressure built on OPP to do something.

In 2019, OPP re-opened the case and promised to conduct an independent investigation. That was received with relief and optimism by the family.

Meanwhile, the family learned more details about how Soleiman died. He was pepper-sprayed, his ankles and hands were cuffed, a "spit hood" was placed over his head and 50 signs of blunt force trauma were found all over his body. Most likely it was a group that caused Soleiman's death.

OPP buried its head under the sand and refused to lay charges. Their argument was that it was not clear who gave the fatal blow.

What logic is behind this reasoning? If we face a gang killing, or other violent assault, can we let the killers go free?

Why, when jail guards participate in the beating of a young racialized man in crisis, does it become hard to determine who gave the "fatal blow" to the victim?

By denying his family truth and justice, Soleiman Faqiri is being killed over and over.

Speaking about the case recently, Senator Peter M. Boehm called it a "travesty of justice."

Dozens of civil society and professional organizations have issued statements condemning the OPP decision. What more is expected? What more can the family and their supporters do to let Soleiman Faqiri rest in peace, and stop killing him over and over? ... s-over-and
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CMLA Statement re the Ontario Provincial Police Investigatio

Postby Thomas » Sun Oct 18, 2020 3:35 pm

CMLA Statement re the Ontario Provincial Police Investigation in the Death of Soleiman Faqiri

The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (“CMLA”) remains concerned by the lack of transparency regarding the specific circumstances of the tragic death of Soleiman Faqiri and calls on the Ontario government to hold a coroner’s inquest promptly.

In 2016, Mr. Faqiri entered the Central East Correctional Centre (“CECC”) in anticipation of being transferred to a mental health facility in light of his acute mental health issues. Mr.Faqiri’s circumstances demanded a high level of dignity, support, and treatment. However, shortly after his introduction to the CECC, Mr. Faqiri was killed in an altercation with multiple correctional officers. The coroner’s report describes the graphic details of his death.

This was an unacceptable outcome. The CMLA is deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Faqiri’s death and calls on the Ontario Provincial Police (“OPP”) and the Provincial Crown Attorney to release details of the investigation.

It is well-documented that there is a broad issue of systemic discrimination in Ontario’s correctional system, which mandates careful attention by the provincial government. Greater transparency, awareness and accountability are essential to eliminating the repeated disenfranchisement of racialized groups in this regard.

While subsection 10(4.3) of the Coroner’s Act already requires a coroner to hold an inquest when a person dies at the premises of a correctional institution, the CMLA is calling on the provincial government to conduct this inquest in a prompt and fair manner.
The inquest should ensure that the facts are elicited through a robust process best designed to expose the truth. Further, the inquest would be improved by granting party status to public interest groups with experience in assisting vulnerable and racialized individuals.
A prompt and fair inquest would result in the following outcomes, which could be of great assistance to the Province:

1. A prompt inquest will also provide the Solicitor General with a clear understanding of exactly what went wrong in this incident, with an eye towards preventing subsequent events, sooner rather than later.

2. If the inquest exposes new evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the OPP and MAG must consider reviewing their decision to not lay criminal charges.

Justice will be served by exposing the truth. ... man-faqiri
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