The dark side of the Canadian coronavirus response

As Ottawa keeps reminding us, this is an extraordinary period. And special action must be taken to curb COVID-19 and prevent this global pandemic from worsening. But for some people most vulnerable to the deadly virus, the federal government will never take special measures.

On Friday morning, it was reported that the prison guard of the Toronto South Detention Center is the residence of provincial prisoners. And those who are awaiting trial in the court have a positive COVID-19.

Prisons are incredibly busy places, where prisoners are admitted and released, and countless supporters and guards come and go every day. They are also often crowded, poorly cared for and lack basic health services. They are highly susceptible to infectious diseases.

This danger has forced officials in New York, Los Angeles, and Cleveland to take the most effective action to reduce the possibility of outbreaks in prisons: release prisoners imprisoned for non-custodial purposes.

Italy cannot address these risks Evidence of the situation. Fearing COVID-19, a prison riot erupted, killing six people, and prisoners overflowed from the prison walls.

Read more: How Americans Underestimate the Threat of Coronavirus

The Canadian Civil Liberties Association Calls for Ottawa

Despite this, Canada has no intention of releasing prisoners. They want to "put public health ahead of fear" and immediately stop imprisoning those who pose little danger to the public and release older or low-risk prisoners with low immunity.

Despite this, Canada has no intention of releasing prisoners. When asked on Friday morning, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau insisted that "we understand the greater risks these institutions face" but only said that he would "take steps to ensure the safety of those in captivity". He did not answer questions about the release of non-violent and low-risk offenders.

These measures appear to involve depriving prisoners of limited opportunities to leave the cell. An Ottawa lawyer, Michael Spratt, told me that one of his clients got an extra bottle of disinfectant spray to fight the virus.

"Most prison populations are kept in their cells for long periods, sometimes three to one unit," he said. Staffing is an issue and prisoners are not allowed to hold video conferences with their lawyers in some cases.

Attorney Zhang, working for the BC Prisoners Legal Service, reports that conditions at the Kent agency near Vancouver have not changed substantially. The floor was flooded last week, and the prison has been closed since. Zhang said the water was only half drained. Two days after the flood, prisoners were held for only 15 minutes. "They have to choose between wiping and bathing," Zhang said. Prisoners reported that the prison was absolutely dirty and littered everywhere.

Spratt said that in the absence of politicians' leadership, royal prosecutors have been looking for "creative solutions", such as agreeing to delay the case until the summer before releasing the defendant. House arrest. He said the royal family was also more willing to accept probation for escape.

At the same press conference, Trudeau announced plans to close the border to all irregular migrants and hand them over to US authorities.

The day after Ken Cuccinelli, Acting Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security, told Fox News, immigration enforcement will continue during the pandemic. The US Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is responsible for arresting and deporting non-citizens, has also announced that arrests of undocumented immigrants will slow down but will not stop completely.

Trudeau has resisted pressure to repatriate asylum for many years. Searchers crossing borders at irregular entrances, especially those coming from Roxham, Quebec. Since 1965, about half of immigrant refugees have transited, and immigrants have been arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, taken to detention facilities, and given the opportunity to make refugee claims. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, there has been unfounded concern that these migrants may carry the virus to the border. Peter MacKay and Erin O’Toole, who led Conservative leaders, called for a crackdown on the border. Quebec Prime Minister François Legault also targeted transit people this week. "It is unacceptable for these asylum seekers to enter our country through Roham Road without being isolated," he said at a press conference.

On Thursday, federal ministers promised they would not In the event of any dispute over jurisdiction,

the story quickly changed, as Trudeau announced Friday morning that Canadian authorities would arrest all persons crossing the road in Roxham and hand them over to US authorities.

"Someone Trudeau said on Friday:

At a second press conference one hour later, Public Safety Minister Bill Blair clarified," In most cases they will not be detained They will only return to the United States. "He said they would be detained only if they would be dangerous offenders at the border jumper. Blair said there would be exceptions for unaccompanied minors of" US nationality. "

Spokesperson A statement from Mary-Liz Power confirmed Friday night that any cross-border people "will be arrested by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police,

details of the plan until Friday night, hours before the action was planned Only announced.

It has been processed in CBSA and then returned in the United States [Customs and Border Protection]. It is unclear whether Canada has obtained assurances from Washington that de facto returning travelers will not be detained. Trudeau simply said: "We also ensure that we are happy with the process, as it is in line with Canadian values ​​for refugees and vulnerable groups."

A request for comment from the Department of Homeland Security was not answered.

In the strict sense, it is unclear whether this is legal. Canada has an international obligation to allow refugee applicants to file complaints. Ottawa has long argued about its secure third country agreement, which states that asylum seekers should apply in the first "safe" country they have arrived in, which gives it the power to repatriate immigrants to the United States. Even if an agreement is reached, Canada continues to hear asylum seekers.

Amnesty International dismissed the news. NGO Secretary General Alex Neve called it an "unexpected and shocking reversal." Neff said in a press release that the decision meant that Canada "is violating our important international obligations to refugees, and at the same time, worldwide concerns about refugees' vulnerability to COVID-19 are increasing.

ICE facilities have been slammed by civil liberties organizations, just caged warehouses. Immigrants are crowded into these facilities, often without even soap. Staff at least one ICE agency in New Jersey The test result for COVID-19 is positive.

Although many crossings at Roxham Road may have status, tourist or work visas in the United States, there is no guarantee that they will permanently reside or successfully obtain refugee status. In fact, since 2017 Since the beginning of the year, more than 12,000 claimants have successfully obtained refugee status in Canada.

Washington has also rejected many of these claims, and the Trump administration has enacted harsh new rules

Blair The number of new crossings has been greatly reduced, from about 45 to 50 people per day to 17 on Thursday. The minister continued Continued: "There is no evidence that they have a higher health risk.

Trudeau, Deputy Prime Ministers Christia Freeland and Blair were unable to convey the exact change that was announced on Wednesday in Ottawa between closures of health facilities. The United States is a border of non-essential travel, but Continued as before, and on Friday when the new policy was promulgated, it brought irregular border crossings.

Unhygienic conditions, trapping people in cramped places, crowding into cells, lacking health care, unable to fight Pandemic.

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