More Than 100 Canadian Leaders Sign Justice for Soli Open Letter to Premier Doug FordWritten by Justice for Soli
Senator Kim Pate, journalist and human rights activist Desmond Cole, Executive Director Harsha Walia of the BC Civil Liberties Association, and CEO Chris Summerville of the Schizophrenia Society of Canada, are among prominent names signed to an open letter to Ontario Premier Doug Ford calling for an open, thorough and transparent investigation into the death of Soleiman Faqiri.
Published on February 26, the letter is endorsed by more than 100 Canadian leaders, including lawyers, doctors, academics, executives, faith leaders and advocates, demanding answers and accountability for the Faqiri family.
“Years drag by without meaningful answers for the family of Soli Faqiri, and without accountability for Soli’s death in government care,” said Paul Champ, a human rights lawyer and signatory to the letter. “A thorough and transparent investigation into the incident and those responsible is just the start because clearly there are many systemic failures that led to this sick and vulnerable man’s death.”
The open letter is the latest effort by the Justice for Soli movement, a grassroots campaign led by family and friends of Soleiman Faqiri, who was killed in December 2016 while under government care by correctional staff at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario. Soleiman’s case has received national attention and helped to bring greater awareness to the crisis of deaths of inmates who suffered from mental illness.
The Faqiri family and the public have been calling for accountability and transparency to see justice served for Soleiman as well as reform to the correctional systems in Canada.
The letter reads as follows:
Dear Premier Ford,
We are writing today to call on the Ontario government to ensure a fair, transparent, and thorough investigation into the death of former Ontario resident Soleiman Faqiri while in government care.
Mr. Faqiri was being held in temporary custody when he was beaten to death by more than a dozen guards at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, on December 15, 2016.
Suffering from schizophrenia and waiting for a bed in a mental health facility, Mr. Faqiri was held in solitary confinement and was prevented from receiving visits from his family. A coroner’s report found that almost all of the more than 50 signs of recent injury identified on Mr. Faqiri's body were caused by "blunt impact trauma."
Following the coroner’s report, a one-year police investigation by the Kawartha Lakes Police Service found no wrongdoing. A second police investigation was called in January 2019.
Ontarians need answers as to what really happened to Mr. Faqiri, so that such a tragedy never happens again.
We, the undersigned, along with Mr. Faqiri’s family and over 17,000 supporters are calling on the Government of Ontario to ensure an open, thorough, and transparent investigation. Those responsible for Mr. Faqiri’s death must be held fully accountable for their actions.
“Given all we know about the inability of services and prisons to respond appropriately to individuals with mental health issues, it strikes me that it would be for the government to invest in mental health services in the community and focus on decarcerating those with mental health issues.” — Senator Kim Pate, Independent Senator for Ontario, Territory of the Algonquin Anishinabeg
"Justice demands a timely and credible investigation into the circumstances surrounding Soli Faqiri's death in custody. Justice delayed is justice denied. The Faqiri family deserves answers. The public has a right to know." — Faisal Bhabha, Law Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School
“Those struggling with mental illness behind prison walls are vulnerable and too often forgotten. The tragedy which befell Soliman Faqiri stands as a tragic testament
to our failure to live up to our claim of being a society based on the values of justice and accountability. Our nation has a responsibility to do better.” — Yasin Dwyer, Executive Director, Muslim Chaplaincy of Toronto and Former Federal Prison Chaplain
Canadians sign open letter calling for justice for mentally ill man who died in Ontario jail (The Globe and Mail)