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Aboriginal - First Nations Civil liberties Justice Poverty Race and ethnicity

The sorry state of Canadian civil liberties: ‘Hurricane’ passes as his adopted country regresses

Rubin-Carter-0421

 Rubin ‘Hurricane’ Carter dead at 76: Former professional boxer became an advocate for the wrongly convicted
Mark Gollom, CBC News Apr 20, 2014

The extensive record clearly demonstrates that the petitioners’ convictions were predicated upon an appeal to racism rather than reason, and concealment rather than disclosure.

Wrongful Convictions in Canada (PDF)
Kent Roach, University of Cincinnati Law Review 2012

… the Canadian experience is of interest because in recent years an increasing number of wrongful convictions arising from guilty pleas have been discovered. This phenomenon suggests that the unknown number of wrongful convictions may be much larger than many have appreciated. In other words, wrongful convictions may result not only from contested trials, but from the majority of cases in which accused plead guilty…

How many wrongful convictions in Canada are never detected? Even if the error rate resulting in wrongful convictions in Canada was exceedingly small, there may be large numbers of undiscovered  wrongful convictions, given that about 90,000 criminal court cases result in a person being sentenced to custody in Canada each year. An error rate of only 0.5% would result in approximately 450 wrongful convictions a year

Two-thirds of cases in adult criminal court result in  convictions on the basis of guilty pleas, but given the recent evidence of  innocent people making both irrational and rational decisions to plead guilty, it cannot be assumed that all those in Canada who plead guilty  actually are guilty. The prosecution terminates most of the remaining third of criminal cases. Only 3% of cases result in an acquittalsuggesting that criminal trials only reject a very small percentage of all prosecutions.

That ‘error’ rate is not only 0.5%. And those ‘errors’ tend to overwhelmingly accrue against socio-economically disadvantaged Canadians: Aboriginal / First Nations, visible minorities and low-income individuals. That they’re also far more likely to be charged and denied due process is just another unfortunate ‘error’. Or not.

It would seem the vast majority (2/3) of criminally accused are pleading guilty as they perceive little chance of receiving a fair trial. That a statistically insignificant (3%) share of Canadian criminal cases result in acquittal underscores that in Canada – despite efforts to portray the country as progressive, governed by the rule of law and due process, without prejudice – an accused is not just de jure ‘guilty until proven innocent’, but de facto guilty.

On the bright side, at least Canada doesn’t have the death penalty… yet.

And the Canadian government wonders why it has no credibility when it criticises other nations’ human rights records…

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