December 9, 2022

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Canada: Nova Scotia to Detain Immigrants in Jails: British Columbia July 21 Key Decision

Halifax – Committed to terminating its anti-immigration treaty with Nova Scotia Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) is another victory for the rights of immigrants and refugees, they said today Human Rights Watch (Hrw) e Amnesty International Canada. The move follows British Columbia’s historic decision on July 21 to terminate its contract with the Border Agency.

“An epochal victory”. “The Nova Scotia decision is an important human rights victory that upholds the dignity and rights of people who come to Canada in search of safety or a better life,” said Samar Maskati, Associate Director of Disability Rights. Human Rights Watch. “With two provinces now revoking their anti-immigration agreements within weeks, the federal government must show leadership by revoking the remaining agreements that are at the heart of so many rights abuses.”

Big stats for each prisoner. Over the past five years, the CBSA has incarcerated thousands of people for immigration purposes in dozens of provincial jails across the country. In Nova Scotia, they are by default held in provincial jails because the province does not have a dedicated immigration centre. According to the information accessed below Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy ActAs of April 2021, the federal government pays Nova Scotia the highest rate in the country at CAD $392.30 per day for each immigration detainee.

An end to isolation and violence. “As a result of Nova Scotia’s decision, immigrant inmates will soon be spared the corrosive and human rights-violating conditions of the province’s prisons, where isolation, mass blockades and other forms of routine institutional violence have intensified since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Sheila Wildman, co-chair of the East Coast Prison Justice Association. , Associate Professor and Professor of Law at Dalhousie University. “We call on the federal government to use the resources dedicated to maintaining this brutal practice to invest in sustainable immigration support in the community.”

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Migrants in chains. In the June 2021 report, Human Rights Watch And Amnesty International People detained in Canada for immigration have documented being handcuffed, chained, and held with little to no contact with the outside world. Canada is one of the few northern countries in the world to have no legal limits on how long migrants can be detained, meaning people can be held for months or years without a decision.

Absence of legal standards. While the border agency has full discretion over where people in immigration detention are held, there are no legal standards guiding the agency’s decision to hold a person in a provincial jail instead of an immigration detention center. In the year following the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the agency relied heavily on provincial jails, with 40% of those facilities housing immigrant inmates, at least double that in each of the previous three years.

Discrimination against the disabled. People with psychosocial disabilities (mental health conditions) face discrimination throughout the immigration detention process. For example, CBSA policy indicates that immigrant detainees with psychosocial disabilities may be held in provincial jails instead of specialized federal immigration detention centers for access to “specialized care.” People from communities of color, and blacks in particular, are incarcerated for long periods in immigration detention and often in county jails instead of immigration detention centers.

Traumas for those fleeing wars. “Across the Atlantic provinces and across the country, immigrants and asylum seekers all too often face arbitrary and indefinite detention, which is particularly traumatic for those fleeing war or persecution in search of a safe haven,” said Julie Chamagne, Halifax’s executive director. Refugee Hospital. “Nova Scotia’s decision is an important human rights step. We urge the federal government to implement strong legislative and regulatory changes to prevent rights abuses in this system across the country.” Nova Scotia’s decision builds strong momentum to end immigrant detention in provincial jails, they said. Human Rights Watch And Amnesty International. Since the #WelcomeToCanada campaign began in Nova Scotia six months ago, about 4,600 people have asked the province to take this step.

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Congratulations to Nova Scotia. “We congratulate Nova Scotia’s decision to stop detaining asylum seekers and immigrants in provincial jails for immigration purposes only,” said Getty Nivyabandi. Amnesty International Canada. “There is clear pressure across the country to end this harmful practice. We urge other provinces and the federal government to follow suit.”