Why does Canada refuse to assist Christine Delormier, an Aboriginal Canadian woman?

Toilet with no water after the water was shut off as sanction

On September 17, 2015, Christine Delormier, a 31-year-old Aboriginal Canadian woman, was arrested while on vacation in Mexico. She was charged with aggravated extortion. Since her arrest, Christine Delormier has been held in the women’s prison of Tepepan, in Mexico City, where she has suffered severe physical, sexual and psychological abuse. Despite numerous pleas to both Mexican and Canadian government, no one has come to her assistance. Why is that?

Christine Delormier has made multiple reports to the Canadian Embassy in Mexico City and to Global Affairs Canada, in Ottawa, concerning the treatment she is currently enduring. The Canadian representatives have stated there is nothing they can do to stop the ongoing torture and abuse because “it is not within our mandate to do so”. But it is within their mandate. The Canadian government’s Guide For Canadians Imprisoned Abroad states “consular officials can … seek to ensure you receive equitable treatment under the laws and in keeping with the standards of the host country, upon your arrest or detention.”

Christine Delormier has suffered beatings, prolonged and indefinite solitary confinement, malnutrition, and physical and sexual assaults by prison staff. The electricity in her cell has been cut off as has the water, forcing her to go to the bathroom in a juice jug. In three months, she has been forced to undergo 18 x-rays, allegedly in the service of body searches. Christine Delormier has been deprived of her universal prisoners right to one hour of sunshine and fresh air every day. Christine has not been outside in 17 weeks.

The court has repeatedly asked the prison director Rosa María LaGuardia Balcazar and the prison public defender Leydi Marisol Salizar to provide an end date to the use of solitary confinement. They reply that Christine is not in solitary confinement and that she has all the necessary amenities. Regardless of evidence to the contrary, the Mexican authorities accept the report and never investigate further. Canadian Embassy officials have stated it is not their job to confirm or deny any statements made by the prison. Why is that?

Meanwhile, Christine Delormier has been in solitary confinement for 17 weeks, a fact the Canadian embassy does not deny. The embassy is aware that there is no set date for the isolation to be finished and that the director has presented false information to the court, and still the Embassy has done nothing to report this to international authorities. Why?

When Ms. Delormier became aware that the director was lying to the courts, she took the initiative to find a way to verify her claims of torture, mental and physical abuse. Appalled at what he was forcing Ms. Delormier to endure daily, a prison guard lent her a cell phone to take pictures of her injuries and the inhuman conditions of her cell.

Ms. Delormier took multiple pictures of her injuries and the conditions of her cell and sent them to Philemon Leroux in Ottawa. Mr. Leroux is a Consular Case management officer for Global Affairs Canada. His response was “I have never seen anything like this before”, and then he blocked the pictures’ sender’s email address. Mr. Leroux explained that, since Ms. Delormier was not allowed to have a cell phone, the pictures were “unlawfully obtained ” and could not be used as evidence to verify her claims. Mr. Leroux also stated that since they cannot be certain of the extent of abuse Ms. Delormier is suffering, they would not be raising the issue with foreign affairs.

The catalogue of incompetence, delay and unwillingness to help exhibited by Canadian representatives is outrageous but not surprising. Considering Canada’s track record in stopping the abuse of aboriginal women in prison, it is likely that Ms. Delormier will endure torturous conduct until the day of her release.

Ms. Delormier maintains her innocence: “How did I become part of an organized crime ring of extortionists? I was in the country for 8 days on vacation and upon my arrest I did not speak a word of Spanish.” Currently awaiting trial, Ms. Delormier is asking people to write to the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Amnesty International and the Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau. Ask them to act to stop the abuse and torture. Ask them, “Why does the Canadian refuse to aid an Aboriginal woman citizen? Why does Canada refuse to assist Christine Delormier?”

Cheyenne Pattinson

 

(Photo Credit: Tortura en el Distrito Federal Carcel)