CMLA Statement re the Ontario Provincial Police Investigation in the Death of Soleiman Faqiri
The Canadian Muslim Lawyers Association (“CMLA”) remains concerned by the lack of transparency regarding the specific circumstances of the tragic death of Soleiman Faqiri and calls on the Ontario government to hold a coroner’s inquest promptly.
In 2016, Mr. Faqiri entered the Central East Correctional Centre (“CECC”) in anticipation of being transferred to a mental health facility in light of his acute mental health issues. Mr.Faqiri’s circumstances demanded a high level of dignity, support, and treatment. However, shortly after his introduction to the CECC, Mr. Faqiri was killed in an altercation with multiple correctional officers. The coroner’s report describes the graphic details of his death.
This was an unacceptable outcome. The CMLA is deeply concerned about the circumstances surrounding Mr. Faqiri’s death and calls on the Ontario Provincial Police (“OPP”) and the Provincial Crown Attorney to release details of the investigation.
It is well-documented that there is a broad issue of systemic discrimination in Ontario’s correctional system, which mandates careful attention by the provincial government. Greater transparency, awareness and accountability are essential to eliminating the repeated disenfranchisement of racialized groups in this regard.
While subsection 10(4.3) of the Coroner’s Act already requires a coroner to hold an inquest when a person dies at the premises of a correctional institution, the CMLA is calling on the provincial government to conduct this inquest in a prompt and fair manner.
The inquest should ensure that the facts are elicited through a robust process best designed to expose the truth. Further, the inquest would be improved by granting party status to public interest groups with experience in assisting vulnerable and racialized individuals.
A prompt and fair inquest would result in the following outcomes, which could be of great assistance to the Province:
1. A prompt inquest will also provide the Solicitor General with a clear understanding of exactly what went wrong in this incident, with an eye towards preventing subsequent events, sooner rather than later.
2. If the inquest exposes new evidence of criminal wrongdoing, the OPP and MAG must consider reviewing their decision to not lay criminal charges.