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

GENEVA (21 May 2015) - 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 the medical and family support he depended on, a UN Committee has found after examining the case.

The Geneva-based Human Rights Committee said Canada should allow the man, A.H.G., to return to Canada if he wished and give him adequate compensation.

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

In its findings, the 18-member Committee recognised Canada’s legitimate interest in protecting the general 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 in taking his medication and experienced psychotic relapses.

The Committee said that 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 recognised 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."

Article 7 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states that: “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.

ENDS

*The Committee published its views on 21 May here: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CCPR/Pages/Jurisprudence.aspx

For more information and media requests, please contact Liz Throssell (+41 (0) 22 917 9466/ ethrossell@ohchr.org

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR): http://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CCPR.aspx

To learn more about the Human Rights Committee visit: http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/CCPR/Pages/CCPRIndex.aspx

Human Rights Committee individual complaints procedure:
http://www.ohchr.org/EN/HRBodies/TBPetitions/Pages/HRTBPetitions.aspx

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