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Canada’s deportation of Jamaican man with mental disability ‘cruel treatment’ – UN experts

Credit: OHCHR
Credit: OHCHR

Canada’s deportation of Jamaican man with mental disability ‘cruel treatment’ – UN experts

After examining the case, a United Nations Committee has found that Canada’s deportation of a Jamaican man with a mental disability who had spent much of his life in Canada amounted to cruel and inhuman treatment, effectively leaving him without medical and family support.

The man, known by his initials A.H.G., 52, immigrated to Canada when he was 18 years old and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia in 1993. He was deported to Jamaica on 29 August 2011, after Canadian authorities ruled that he was not eligible to be in the country on the grounds of serious criminality, as a result of his conviction in 2005 of assault with a weapon.

In a statement released today, the Geneva-based Human Rights Committee said Canada should allow A.H.G. to return to Canada if he wished, and also give him adequate compensation.

In its findings, the 18-member Committee recognized Canada’s legitimate interest in protecting the public but highlighted that A.H.G.’s criminal offences were recognised to be related to his mental illness. The Committee experts noted that in 2005, after A.H.G. was evicted from his home and started living in shelters, he had difficulty taking his medication and experienced psychotic relapses.

The deportation of A.H.G., “a mentally ill person in need of special protection who lived most of his life in Canada, on account of criminal offences recognized to be related to his mental illness, and which has effectively resulted in the abrupt withdrawal of available medical and family support on which a person in his vulnerable position is necessarily dependent, constituted a violation by the State party of its obligations under article 7 of the Covenant," the Committee deemed.

Today’s statement cited Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which states: “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.” The Committee highlighted that that the aim of article 7 is to protect both the dignity and the physical and mental integrity of the individual.

The Canadian authorities had argued that A.H.G.’s removal was “reasonable in the circumstances and proportionate to the gravity of the crimes committed, and the danger posed to the Canadian public.”

The Human Rights Committee monitors implementation of the ICCPR by States parties. It considered this case under the First Optional Protocol to the Covenant which gives the Committee competence to examine individual complaints.