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How Canada criminalizes migrants
Two leading human rights organizations are calling on provinces to stop the practice of sending asylum seekers and refugee complainants to jail indefinitely
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch are pressuring provincial governments to cancel an agreement with Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) that allows for asylum seekers and refugees to be held in jail indefinitely while their claims are processed.
Via the Globe and Mail:
The campaign is launching after the release of a joint report in June from Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International that documented how being detained in Canadian jails and treated punitively affect people’s mental health, especially for those who came to Canada seeking an open, tolerant society. The report calls for the gradual abolishment of immigration detention, where it says people experience human-rights violations.
Refugee claimants and asylum seekers are detained based on criteria determined by the CBSA, which include: being deemed a danger to the public, if border officials can’t confirm their identity, and if they’re deemed a flight risk. Around 80% fit into the last category.
That’s a pretty wide net.
Canada held about 32,000 people in immigration detention between April 2016 to March 2020. Between 16% to 20% were incarcerated.
While the overall number of people in immigration detention decreased during the pandemic, the percentage of claimants held in provincial jails jumped to 50%.
“This pandemic really has presented a unique opportunity to take a turn toward this paradigm shift [of ending provincial jail use] that is so absolutely necessary in this area,” Human Rights Watch researcher Hanna Gros told the Globe.
Sara Maria Gomez Lopez, who came to Canada from Mexico in 2012, told the Globe she can no longer wear jewelry on her wrists because it reminds her of being handcuffed when she was detained for three months in a B.C. jail upon arrival.
“Once I got released, I was wondering how I’m going to trust this country that’s supposed to be friendly for asylum seekers,” she said. “I cannot be before any CBSA officer because I start shaking again. My heart starts pumping faster … feeling the panic attack.”
In other news …
On Tuesday, Nunavut Health told residents of Iqaluit — the territorial capital — not to consume the city’s tap water after oil byproduct leaked into its water supply.
From APTN: Iqaluit has a number of boil-water advisories each year – usually when a pipe is repaired and sediment is dislodged … But this is different – you can’t boil or filter the chemicals in the drinking water that is flowing now.
The territorial government is flying in 80,000 litres of bottled water while testing is underway. This is expected to take about a week.
The Mounties say they’ve put these recommendations in place but the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission (CRCC) says it has no way to verify the claim.
The RCMP lists these online with the status of each recommendation and, if applicable, the date completed. But the website doesn’t provide further details.
"While existing legislation requires that the RCMP Commissioner respond to reports and indicate whether the recommendations are accepted, there is no statutory requirement for the RCMP to confirm the degree to which the CRCC's recommendations have been implemented. This is a major gap," says CRCC spokesperson Kate McDerby.
The group argues that Erin O’Toole’s tough-on-China stance alienated Chinese-Canadian voters who may not like the Communist Party of China, but still have affinity for China as a nation.
“When you keep on attacking China, it sometimes translates as attacking the Chinese community,” says Joe Li, a York Region (north of Toronto) councillor and Conservative Party member. “Why don’t we leave the destiny of China to the Chinese people who live inside?”
The group also criticized the Conservative leader for a lack of outreach to Chinese communities, his perceived pivot to the centre, and failure to embrace leadership runner-up Peter MacKay.
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