Wednesday, April 26, 2017

NL man arrested for criticizing police shooting
has rights upheld by provincial court

N.L. court defends political dissent in case of man hospitalized involuntarily - Newfoundland & Labrador - CBC News - Canadian Press:

April 18, 2017 - "The Newfoundland and Labrador Court of Appeal has issued a ringing defence of political dissent, in the case of a man held involuntarily at a psychiatric hospital after he sent a series of angry tweets about a police shooting.

"Andrew Abbass was detained and taken to the psychiatric unit at Western Memorial Hospital in Corner Brook, N.L., on April 7, 2015, two days after the fatal shooting of Don Dunphy in Mitchells Brook, N.L.

"Abbass had expressed anger about the death on social media, prompting Royal Newfoundland Constabulary officers to go to his home....

"Abbass, who has since been released, challenged his detention in provincial Supreme Court, claiming he was not suffering from a mental disorder and that the doctors' certificates of involuntary admission did not cite grounds for his detention. But the judge declined jurisdiction, and dismissed his application....

"The appeal court said the lower-court judge should not have declined jurisdiction.... 'The courts must always be there for the vindication of the citizen with what he or she views as the wrongful exercise of authority. Mr. Abbass was denied his day in court. He should have had it.'

"In its ruling, the appeal court said the first psychiatric assessment of Abbass took 19 minutes. before a doctor certified a certificate of involuntary admission.... The second certificate was completed five minutes later, and noted Abbass had expressed anger about the shooting.... The appeal court said both certificates appeared to rely on second-hand facts and made no attempt to identify the mental disorder in question.....

"'If anger about political events and words of defiance to authorities are dealt with as signs of mental illness … warranting involuntary committal, then our society is in a dangerous place,' it said.... 'As the history of authoritarian societies has taught us, confinement in a mental institution is a particularly insidious way of stifling dissent, directly and through intimidation'...

An RNC constable shot Dunphy on Easter Sunday 2015. Const. Joe Smyth, a member of then-premier Paul Davis's security detail, has testified he shot Dunphy, 58, once in the left chest and twice in the head in self defence.... Smyth has said he went to Dunphy's home to check out political comments Dunphy had made on Twitter."

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