Ontario’s Superior Court has certified a class action lawsuit alleging Canadian authorities illegally stripped federal prisoners after hundreds of thousands of searches over a 30-year period.
The bill, filed against the government, condemns prison officials’ misconduct, calls for a halt to searches not authorized by federal law, and seeks compensation for victims.
Current law stipulates that strip searches should be limited to cases in which inmates may have accessed drugs or other contraband, but the lawsuit states that inmates were found in prison buildings and They claim it was done regularly when they left their safe place and entered the family visiting room. or transferred to another facility.
Prisoners were forced to “remove all clothing, crouch, spread their buttocks, manipulate their genitalia, remove soiled tampons, and squat naked while their body orifices are inspected,” it said. stated on the invoice.
Lawyers for the plaintiffs say this is a violation of basic personal liberties and the government must stop breaking its own laws.
However, the government has denied most of the allegations.
Its defense statement states that contraband “is available, has been found, and remains subject to attempts at concealment.”
“Routine strip searches are an essential component of an integrated safety and security strategy within prisons and in the broader correctional context,” the document states.
However, the Supreme Court, in a 2001 ruling, overruled the practice, saying the search was “one of the most extreme exercises of police power” and was inherently “degrading and degrading.” condemned.
Former inmate Michael Farrell said in his complaint that the searches he experienced inside prison for 15 years were “extremely invasive” and led to a “flood of negative emotions.”
In an interview, Farrell said the experience was “embarrassing and humiliating” and would also occur when moved from one safe place to another.
“I put myself out there. Told.
The July 2020 document, prepared for the Commonwealth Minister of Public Safety prior to her appearance in Congress, was posted online under an active disclosure policy, and the Canadian Correctional Service declared a “safety for Canadian offenders.” We are committed to humane and effective remediation.”
A document outlining how the minister can respond to concerns about class action lawsuits said the agency will only conduct strip searches “in the most discreet, humane and sensitive manner possible by trained professionals.” Stated.
Public Security Minister Marco Mendicino, whose portfolio includes correctional services, did not respond to a request for comment.
Kent Elson, one of the attorneys representing the applicants, said in an interview that the government has violated its own laws restricting the use of strip searches and that they are being done “too often.” I was.
“By accrediting class action lawsuits like this, we hope that prison officials will be more cautious and work harder to discourage unnecessary nudity searches,” he said.
“Prisoners suffer. And ultimately society suffers when prisoners come out of prison traumatized.”
Now that the case has been certified, it will proceed to a trial of common issues and a judge will decide which issues apply to all class members. A date has not yet been set for these proceedings.
The government’s defense statement argues that the class action lawsuit is “overly broad and unmanageable.” This is because the class action lawsuit involves inmates who have been imprisoned in the past 30 years. ”
That period could lead to over-stated claims in civil lawsuits, it adds.
The defense’s statement states that the claim should be limited to the more recent two years and that “regular strip searches that caused or substantially contributed to recognizable and compensable psychological or emotional harm.” Only individuals with actual experience should be included.”