Monday March 21, 2016

Deaths in CBSA custody renew calls for immigration detention reform

Why - in the space of less than one week - have two people died while in Canadian immigration detention? There aren't many answers. Critics say that's a big part of the problem.

Why - in the space of less than one week - have two people died while in Canadian immigration detention? There aren't many answers. Critics say that's a big part of the problem. (CBC)

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"We call for no immigration detention! We call for those centres to be shut down, those cells to be closed, those cellblocks to be closed, we call for no migrants in detention!" - Macdonald Scott protesting the CBSA system

On March 15, 2016, a protest and vigil held outside the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada offices in Toronto shone a light on the immigration detention system and the recent deaths of two men who died in custody of Canada Border Services Agency, less than a week apart. 

A total of 14 detainees have died in CBSA care since 2000.

The CBSA has released very few details about the deaths but advocates say the men would still be alive if they weren't in immigration detention, arguing the system lacks transparency and accountability. 

Guests in this segment:

  • Macdonald Scott, immigration consultant for the law firm Carranza LLP in Toronto and member of No One is Illegal
  • Stockwell Day, former Conservative MP who served as Canada's Minister of Public Safety between 2006 and 2008. He's also the former leader of the opposition with the Alliance party.

The Current did ask Ralph Goodale, the minister of public safety, to join us. He was not available. A CBSA representative was also not available, but we received this statement:

"The CBSA is committed to ensuring the health and safety of those in our care. As is the case with any death in custody, the CBSA takes this matter seriously and will complete a review of the circumstances surrounding death."


Should immigrant detainees be held in medium to maximum security institutions?

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This segment was produced by The Current's Vanessa Greco and Kinsey Clarke.