Friday, October 28, 2016

Justice for Adam Capay

Adam Capay going into court in 2012. (Jeff Labine/DougallMedia/

For years we have been aware of the military prison camp called Guantanamo or Gitmo which is run by the United States at the tip of Cuba. The United States promised to give the land back to Cuba, and hasn't, while President Obama made a promise to close it, and hasn't. It is notorious for the torture of prisoners who had not necessarily been convicted of crimes in contravention of international law. Extended isolation of prisoners was one of those forms of torture.

We have been made aware in recent days of a young First Nations man, Adam Capay, who has been held in an isolation room in the Thunder Bay jail for more than four years --52 months -- awaiting trial. He has lived in the tiny confines of that room for twenty three hours of each day, with the light on constantly. He was jailed originally for a minor crime, then accused of killing another inmate during a fight, but he has been convicted of nothing. He is considered a potential danger to himself and others but his incarceration under these conditions is akin to torture under every standard in this country and our Charter of Rights and Freedoms. And if Adam has mental health issues, this treatment won't improve them.

This is truly inhumane and I have to wonder if this has to do with his being aboriginal. Who has been his advocate? I heard an interview with  Renu Mandhane, Ontario’s chief human rights commissioner. She was finally able to speak to Capay during a visit to the Thunder Bay jail and brought the circumstances of his incarceration to the attention of the public. Capay appeared to be losing his capacity for speech because of the lack of human contact. How did this happen?

We are well aware of the injustices of churches and governments toward aboriginal peoples in Canada during the Residential School era. We also await the inquiry into the fate of missing and murdered aboriginal women. This is a grim reminder that our system of justice is flawed, well beyond what has happened to Adam Capay in that jail.


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