B.C.: Sudanese refugee in custody on allegations of murder sues province
18-year-old alleges he was held in solitary confinement for four months
Photograph by: Stuart Davis , Vancouver Sun files
METRO VANCOUVER — A teen refugee who was allegedly kept in solitary confinement for four months at the Burnaby Youth Detention Centre is suing the provincial government.
The 18-year-old boy, originally from what is now South Sudan, was remanded into custody in Burnaby on Oct. 7, 2014 on allegations of murder and attempted murder, according to a claim filed Tuesday in B.C. Supreme Court.
The teen, who cannot be named because he was a young offender at the time of his offence, accuses the Ministry of Children and Family Development of negligence, false imprisonment and Charter rights violations in its operation of the detention centre.
Lawyer Chris Terepocki acknowledges that his teen client was a “difficult” one for staff at the detention centre.
“He is a refugee, he has been diagnosed with Severe Conduct Disorder and he assaulted a correctional officer,” Terepocki wrote in a news release.
“The MCFD’s response, however, to separately confine a youth for a period of four months, was unlawful and is not acceptable in any country. This was a protracted solitary confinement of a vulnerable youth with underlying mental health concerns.”
A little less than a month after the young offender was remanded to the detention centre, he attacked an officer and was placed in solitary confinement for the maximum 72 hours permitted by youth custody regulations, according to the statement of claim.
Bill Anderson, a spokesman for the Ministry of Children and Family Development, said he would not comment on the legal proceedings.
“On very rare occasions, separate confinement arrangements are made for youth at a custody centre. This is done to ensure the safety of other youth and staff at the facility, and to ensure the needs of an individual youth can continue to be met through consistent access to staff, education, and regular programming. These rare circumstances are continuously reviewed to assess when it is safe, and in the youth’s interest, to be reintegrated with other youth,” Anderson said.
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