UN body blasts C’da over treatment of mentally ill Jamaican

By Admin Thursday May 28 2015 in News
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By TOM GODFREY


A mentally ill Brampton man was treated in a “cruel and inhumane manner” when he was deported to Jamaica by Canadian border officials who left him to fend for himself, a United Nations human rights body has found.

 

The 49-year-old man, who suffers from paranoid schizophrenia, was placed in a Kingston hospital for 30 days after being deported in August 2011, said a UN Human Rights Committee (UNHRC), adding that he was only provided with enough medicine for three months.

 

The man, who has loving relatives in Canada, was soon living on the streets of Kingston, where he was sexually assaulted, robbed twice, stabbed and beaten several times.

 

The UN body that was asked to review the case, did not identify the man but said he migrated to Canada when he was 18 years old and had lived here for 31 years.

 

He was removed by two Canada Border Services Agency officers after appeals for minor criminal convictions.

 

The review said he was diagnosed with his illness in 1993 and was institutionalized for 18-months. He received regular mental health treatment on an outpatient basis until 2005, when he was evicted from his apartment and started living in shelters.

 

Committee members, in a written decision, blamed Canada for removing the man to a strange land without medical and family support.

 

The UN committee stated the man should be returned to Canada if he wishes and be provided with adequate compensation.

 

“A lack of family support in a foreign environment, expose (him) to a great risk of deterioration of his health condition; to social exclusion and isolation; and to homelessness,” the committee found.

 

They wrote that “persons with schizophrenia are more likely to become victims of violence and crime than to commit violent acts themselves”.

“There is good reason to believe that if he were permitted to live free from detention, with access to medication and family support, his illness would generally remain manageable,” committee members stated.

The committee noted that Jamaican group homes provide accommodation for 30 days to deportees and then they can be admitted to the mental hospital, which has very limited capacity and is reluctant to admit deportees.

“Most people end up on the street after three months. There are no shelters for individuals with violent behaviour in Jamaica; psychiatric treatment in prison is in the embryonic stage; mental illness is highly stigmatized.”

The victim had a close relationship with two of his sisters and his niece in Canada. His parents are deceased and most of his siblings are in Canada or in the U.S. He has two half-brothers and a half-sister in Jamaica, who want little to do with him.

 

The UN committee found that at one time the man was living in a Kingston park that was described as an “open dump” and was sleeping in the bushes and in piles of dirt.

 

“He was assessed by a doctor in April 2012, who reported he was unkempt and dressed in dirty clothes; was unshaved and had not bathed in days,” the review noted.

 

The deportation “constituted inhumane treatment because insufficient consideration was given to (the victim) as an individual with severe mental impairments,” wrote member Anja Seibert-Fohr.

Seibert-Fohr said their Charter “requires that every individual is treated with respect for his or her dignity and not as a mere object of state authority”.

Another UN panelist Yuval Shany said Canada was not interested in rehabilitation or in “monitoring the (victim’s) progress in the treatment program over time, as a less harmful mean to protect the general public”.

Shany said Canadian officials could have admitted the man in a community mental health program; administered oral medication or supervision to reduce the threat he posed

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