Human Rights Commission joins call for public inquiry on sexual violence in prisons

OTTAWA – The Canadian Human Rights Commission says Canada needs an independent public inquiry to address serious issues of sexual violence and coercion in federal prisons for women.

The commission is adding its weight to the call for such an inquiry made a year ago by the Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies.

Chief commissioner Marie-Claude Landry says the CHRC is “deeply concerned” by reports about sexual coercion, violence and abuse in federal correctional institutions and a lack of action to address the problem.

The statement comes 10 days after a former prison guard at the Nova Institution for Women, in Truro, N.S., pleaded guilty to six charges in relation to the sexual assault of three women inmates.

Correctional Investigator Ivan Zinger says in his latest annual report that there are “considerable gaps” in how Correctional Services investigates and prevents sexually problematic behaviours behind bars.

The Correctional Service of Canada says it is developing a policy this spring on sexual coercion and violence in its institutions.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 13, 2022.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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