Aboriginal women offenders: the most vulnerable of all - CHRC Statement

Mar 07, 2013, 14:01 ET from Canadian Human Rights Commission

OTTAWA, March 7, 2013 /CNW/ - Mr. David Langtry, Acting Chief Commissioner of the Canadian Human Rights Commission made the following statement today:

"The matters raised by the Office of the Correctional Investigator in his Special Report to Parliament are grave and troubling. They demand urgent attention. Recent history is not encouraging in that regard.

"In 2003, the Canadian Human Rights Commission issued a report on women in the correctional system. Those findings, from a decade ago, are largely unchanged with respect to Aboriginal women today.

"We are still seeing a disproportionate number of Aboriginal women in solitary confinement, which creates barriers to access to rehabilitation programs. As a result, Aboriginal women in corrections do not get paroled early if at all. Not only are they over-represented, they are serving more time. These facts were confirmed by the Correctional Investigator today.

"The condition of female Aboriginal inmates with mental illness is of particular concern.

"Female offenders are the most vulnerable inmates. They are twice as likely as male offenders to have a significant mental health diagnosis at time of admission, and they are far more likely than males to self-harm in prison.

"Aboriginal women are the most vulnerable among this vulnerable group. These are women scarred by generations of neglect, abuse, and systemic discrimination. The high numbers of unresolved cases of missing and murdered Aboriginal women speak to the same systemic issues of violence, poverty and marginalization, and the too common indifference of bureaucracies to basic human rights.

"I commend the Correctional Investigator for taking this bold and timely initiative and I urge all political actors to work collaboratively to ensure his recommendations for change are implemented swiftly."

SOURCE Canadian Human Rights Commission