For immediate release
CAP calls on Ottawa to help Indigenous woman stranded in Turkey
June 23, 2022 Ottawa, ON
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is demanding Global Affairs Canada take immediate action to help Charman Smith, an Indigenous woman currently stranded in Turkey.
Smith was sentenced to nine years in a Turkish prison for a crime she denies knowledge of. She is a Carcross-Tagish First Nation woman and Canadian citizen who continues to face injustice in Turkey. CAP has brought this case to the attention of the governments of Canada and Turkey on previous occasions to no avail.
In 2016, Smith was convicted of trafficking “khat” while transferring flights from Kenya to Turkey on her way back to Canada. In 1980, The World Health Organization labelled “khat” as a non-addictive drug that pales in comparison to other harder drugs. Although “khat” is defined as a schedule 4 drug in Canada, CAP believes a 9-year sentence is excessive and Smith was denied proper legal representation.
“Smith faced countless systemic issues growing up in Canada including poverty, racism and exclusion. She is now facing more time in a Turkish prison, being denied the human rights Canadians take for granted,” says CAP National Vice-Chief Kim Beaudin. “Ms. Smith has extensive life-threatening health issues and has already experienced violence and abuse within the Turkish justice system. The injustice must end.”
As a result of the pandemic, Smith is living in the community while out on parole, and unable to work. At any point, Ms. Smith could be called back to prison and the accompanying exposure to mistreatment and violence. This case must continue to be a priority for Canada, given the humanitarian issues at stake and the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Any kind of incarceration is a high-risk environment that puts her life at risk. She deserves the right to have her case heard in a fair and impartial process that can confirm she is not a danger and that she may return home to her family in Canada.
CAP is calling on Global Affairs Minister Melanie Joly to immediately reach out to the Turkish government and demand Smith be sent home.
Director of Media Relations
The Congress of Aboriginal Peoples is the national voice representing the interests of Métis, status and non-status Indians, and Southern Inuit Indigenous People living off-reserve. Today, over 80% of Indigenous people live off-reserve.