The First Canadian Province to End Immigration Detention in its Jails
This weekend, British Columbia ended its arrangement with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to hold immigration detainees in provincial correctional centres. According to the province, it doesn’t align with its stance on human rights.
“… (some) aspects of the arrangement do not align with our government’s commitment to upholding human-rights standards or our dedication to pursuing social justice and equity for everyone.”Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
British Columbia’s announcement came after the province concluded a review of its immigration detention contract. In the course of the review, the province received submissions from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and other advocacy groups.
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This review examined all aspects of the arrangement, including its effect on public safety and whether it aligns with the United Nations Standard Minimum Rules for the Treatment of Prisoners and expectations set by Canadian courts.Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General
The report, among other things, said the number of immigration detainees in provincial custody is declining. But, provincial jails are used to hold “high-risk detainees.” It also noted that while CBSA compensates B.C. corrections to hold detainees, it does not cover the total cost.
Human rights groups celebrate this milestone
“Canada is among the few countries in the global north with no legal limit on the duration of immigration detention,” the groups said in a joint statement following the announcement. They added “people can be detained for months or years with no end in sight.” “British Columbia’s decision is a major milestone on the path to ending immigration detention in provincial jails in Canada.”
Ketty Nivyabandi, secretary-general of Amnesty International Canada, said in a statement that she commends B.C. for being the first province to make the decision. She called it a “momentous step.”
“This is a true human rights victory, one which upholds the dignity and rights of people who come to Canada in search of safety or a better life,” she said.
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