—Human Rights Violations and Torture in Canadian Prisons—
November 9, 2011
When Peter Collins won his case at the Human Rights Tribunal, there was a public outcry about someone with Peter’s history being awarded any such compensation, due to the violent nature of his crime. However, this case isn’t about Peter’s crime, from nearly 30 years ago; it’s about the human rights violations conducted by our own federal government. It is about CSC government officials refusing to make disability accommodations for a prisoner who has significant secondary issues related to a spinal injury.
Mr. Collins’ spine was crushed in a motor vehicle accident and he suffers from; degenerative disk disease, bulging and herniated disks, narrowing of nerve canals and some nerve root compression combined with several retro pulsed bones against his dural tube and spinal cord. This condition causes significant pain and limits mobility and movement.
In this case, the prison doctor (Dr. Wyatt) provided medical direction to the prison to not force Mr. Collins to stand up. Security (through officer Ian Chinnery, Mr. Collins’ former parole officer) wrote to the doctor and directed her to change her medical orders so that security officers could compel Mr. Collins to stand regardless of his medical and pain issues. The doctor then reversed her medical direction to comply. Shortly after this Mr. Collins was charged with several disciplinary offences for being unable to stand.
All of Mr. Collins’ efforts to resolve this matter were denied by CSC. After four years of trying to correct the matter and just days before the scheduled 2009 Canadian Human Rights Tribunal, the CSC went on record and plead guilty to failing to accommodate a disability. Subsequently the Human Rights hearing went forward to establish the degree of guilt. Ultimately CSC was found guilty of violating Canadian Human Rights Law by failing to accommodate a disability and recklessly causing pain and suffering.
Again, this is not a case about Mr. Collins’ crime. It’s a case about Canadian government prison officials interfering with medical needs and failing to deal with a disability, in violation of Canadian law.
It should be noted that Mr. Collins is deportable and was supported for full parole in 2009, but two weeks after the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal hearing, support for his parole was withdrawn from CSC. He was then fired from his job as Peer Health Counselor, a job for which he had only excellent work evaluations, and he was fired for writing a release planning manual for prisoners by the same staff member who was found guilty of failing to accommodate a disability and recklessly causing pain and suffering, (Chief of Health Care Brian Blasko).
He has since been refused medical pay exception by the Warden, and when a bench that he was sitting on collapsed in the visiting area his injuries were triaged by a prison security officer with no medical training, and in that assessment he was found to have incurred no injury related to the accident. When the hospital was open the following day he attended the hospital and advised them of the accident and his increased pain. They refused to see him and provide any pain medicine and told him to put in a written request to see the doctor. Since the hearing in 2009 he has repeatedly requested verbally and in writing a walking cane and that has not been dealt with to date. It is clear that Mr. Collins has been blacklisted by CSC for his efforts to correct case mismanagement and medical mismanagement.
There was mention of hate propaganda, in the form of political cartoons. They are in fact just that…political cartoons on par with the ones that you see in the newspapers. Calling it hate propaganda is misleading, possibly libel, as it meets neither federal nor provincial definitions of the crime. During nearly the 30 years that Peter has been in prison, he has produced a scant three pieces, which relate to socially relevant policing issues in Canada. Peter has donated hundreds of pieces of art to prisoner and public health organizations.
Mr. Collins won the 2008 award for action on HIV/AIDS and Human Rights from the international government watchdog HUMAN RIGHTS WATCH and The Canadian HIV/AIDS Legal Network. When the award was given it was given for struggling for better health care of prisoners, improving systemic responses to HIV/AIDS, writing policy documents, which were directed towards prison administrators and Canadian legislators, and ongoing work with community based health organizations.
Note: The Prison Radio Show received permission to post the text of this press release.
If you would like to learn more about this case, tune into the Prison Radio Show at 11am November 25th on 90.3 fm in Montreal. You can also listen on-line or check out our archives at http://www.ckut.ca