Nova Scotia to End Immigration Detention in its Jails

Know the Second Canadian Province to End Immigration Detention in its Jails

Nova Scotia is becoming the second province to stop holding federal immigration detainees in provincial jails. The province has given Ottawa 12 months’ notice to cancel its immigration detention agreement with the CBSABritish Columbia was the first province to make this move, terminating its contract in July of this year.

The Nova Scotia Department of Justice said Tuesday in an email it will “work with CBSA to establish a transition plan that prioritizes public safety and ensures the rights of individuals are preserved and protected.” Officials are now working on a plan to wind down the practice.

Moreover, Julie Chamagne, Executive Director of the Halifax Refugee Clinic, said that:

“Nova Scotia’s decision is an important step forward for human rights. We call on the federal government to enact robust legislative and regulatory changes to stop rights violations in this system across the country.”

Human rights groups celebrate this milestone

In a June 2021 report, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented that people in Canadian immigration detention are regularly handcuffed. They are also shackled and held with little to no contact with the outside world. In addition, they mentioned that Canada is among only a few countries in the global north with no legal limit on the duration of immigration detention. This means that people can be detained for months or years with no end in sight.

According to the associate disability rights director at Human Rights Watch, Samer Muscati:

“Nova Scotia’s decision is a momentous human rights victory that upholds the dignity and rights of people who come to Canada in search of safety or a better life.” He added, “With two provinces now cancelling their immigration detention contracts within weeks, the federal government should show leadership by cancelling the remaining agreements, which are at the heart of so many rights violations.”

Immigration detention levels in Canada

Canada’s immigration law permits Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) officers to detain permanent residents and foreign nationals under certain conditions. Of course, officers must consider all reasonable alternatives before making this decision.

According to a CBSA report on the quarterly detention statistics for the fiscal year 2021 to 2022 Ontario and British Columbia continued to have the largest number of detainees. Nevertheless, the province with the highest increase in the number of detainees between Q1 to Q2 was Quebec.

Immigration detention - CBSAImage: CBSA

To know when an officer detains an individual and British Columbia’s announcement, please visit the following articles:

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