Magazine article Herizons

Elizabeth Fry, Manitoba Justice Reach Agreement

Magazine article Herizons

Elizabeth Fry, Manitoba Justice Reach Agreement

Article excerpt

(WINNIPEG) An agreement reached in the wake of a human rights complaint in Manitoba will mean better conditions for women at the Portage Correctional Centre in Portage Ia Prairie, Manitoba, women's advocates say.

In 2002, the Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba filed two complaints with the Manitoba Human Rights Commission about the treatment and conditions faced by women incarcerated at Manitoba's jail for women sentenced to terms of less than two years. The complaint charged that women experience discrimination on the basis of sex, race and disability at the centre, as well as a lack of attention to their circumstances, including those of Aboriginal women and mothers.

After a lengthy investigation, the Human Rights Commission found merit in the complaints and referred the parties to mediation. As a result, Manitoba Justice agreed in June to take a number of steps to improve the situation of incarcerated women. It promised culturally appropriate services and training, including substance-abuse services and measures to reduce self harm by inmates.

"This complaint and the progress made through mediation are firsts for Canada," says Elizabeth Fry Society of Manitoba president Debra Parkes. "We'll be encouraging and supporting the efforts of Elizabeth Fry societies across the country to pursue human rights complaints in their provinces."

The agreement includes:

* A commitment by Manitoba Justice to work with the Human Rights Commission to develop and deliver human rights training for all staff and inmates, to integrate human rights training at all levels of corrections, and to ensure that accountability for human rights compliance is part of managerial accountability in the department. …

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