Canada Border Services Agency has been reported to have treated non-citizens like “animals,” according to the International Human Rights Program, and to treat them like “garbage,” or “something less than human.”
The report, spearheaded by University of Toronto, said that migrants, diagnosed with mental health problems, are being held in maximum-security detention for years despite having non-criminal status or a vulnerable condition. And such maltreatment violated Canada’s international human rights duties as it constituted discrimination, arbitrary detention and cruelty, among others, according to the report.
In its “We Have No Rights” report, researchers disclosed that non-citizens were detained because they were a “flight risk” or “their identity cannot be confirmed.” In addition, because there is over-representation of people suffering from mental health problems, some migrants in Canada’s criminal justice system were still detained on the ground of having a previous criminal record — this means that even after having served their sentence due to a court conviction – no matter how minor the offense was — they remained to be at detention.
“Some spend more time in jail on account of their immigration status than the underlying criminal conviction,” the report said.
The report went further and said the detention was not adequately personalized because it did not factor in issues like vulnerabilities, such as existing mental health problems. The jail staff and counsel spoken to by researchers disclosed that often, migrants are detained at provincial jails due to their pre-existing mental health issues, medical issues, or merely because they are found to be “uncooperative by CBSA” or categorized as “problematic.”
“Alarmingly, we could find no established criteria in law to determine when a detainee can or should be transferred from an IHC to a provincial jail – the decision is at the whim of CBSA. Detainees’ counsel are not notified of the transfer in advance and do not have the right to make submissions to challenge it,” the report continued.
The migrants detained who were profiled by the study have already spent “between two months and eight years in maximum-security provincial jails.” Each of the detainees had been diagnosed with mental health problems or had manifested serious anxiety or suicidal tendencies. But for those who have been detained for a long time or indefinitely, the report described such detention to be “arbitrary.”