It will take a healthy dose of political will, huge investments and nearly a generation for the Quebec government to implement the wide-ranging recommendations an inquiry that examined treatment of Indigenous people made to the province’s justice and correctional systems, according to legal experts.
A United Nations working group on business and human rights is calling on federal and provincial governments as well as industry associations and companies to bolster their efforts to prevent and address “adverse human rights impacts” of business activities in Canada and abroad.
The UN panel lauded the federal government for undertaking some initiatives to deal with business and human rights, particularly in the extractive sector, but underscored that it could do much more.
Nearly three years after the president of the Quebec legal society warned the provincial government that prison conditions faced by Inuit inmates in northern Quebec were appalling and deplorable, the Quebec Ombudsman upbraided the government for turning a blind eye to the daily violation of basic human rights, unacceptable detention conditions, and systemic shortcomings in the administration of justice in Nunavik.
Unsanitary and overcrowded holding cells, nauseating odours, soiled bedding, inaccessible showers, sanitation facilities that fail to provide detainees with privacy, and prisoners having to eat their meals on the floor are among some of the more disturbing findings made by the Quebec Ombudsman Raymonde Saint-Germain who likened Nunavik’s detention and justice system to the Third World.
Just as troubling were her findings that detainees are kept in cells 24 hours a day because there are no outdoor courtyards, with some detainees having to wait as long as two weeks in preventative custody. The Criminal Code of Canada prescribes a maximum waiting time of three days.