For Immediate Release
WHAT: Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the BC Civil Liberties Association are among organizations co-hosting a press conference to kick off 14 Days of Action to end immigration detention in British Columbia provincial jails. The days of action lead up to a Vancouver City Hall motion on May 17 being introduced by councillor Jean Swanson calling for the government of BC to end its agreement with the Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA), which currently allows for the detention of migrants and refugee claimants. The agreement is under review by BC Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth.
This campaign is supported by individuals personally impacted as well as by concerned groups and organizations who made submissions to the province’s review of its agreement with CSBA. These include the Centre for Gender & Sexual Health Equity, BC Poverty Reduction Coalition, Swan, Community Legal Assistance Society, Immigration and Refugee Legal Clinic, Migrant Workers Centre BC, West Coast LEAF, Justice for Girls, BC Prisoner Legal Services, Pivot Legal Society, and BC General Employees Union.
Speakers will address key concerns, including:
- Canada’s practice of incarcerating immigration detainees in provincial jails is a violation of international human rights law.
- Jailing people for purely immigration purposes engages the BC Human Rights Code’s protection from discrimination based on several protected grounds, including place of origin, race, and sex.
- CBSA’s practices in immigration detention are discriminatory against people with mental health conditions, and officers have characterized behaviours associated with psychosocial disabilities and/or mental health deterioration as non-cooperation and reason for continued detention.
- Immigration detainees from communities of colour, particularly Black detainees, are incarcerated for longer periods and are often held in provincial jails as opposed to dedicated immigration holding centres; BC’s agreement with the CBSA allows for this disproportionate harm and systemic racism.
- Evidence of harm embedded in CBSA policies and practices is longstanding and has been outlined in reports, including the 2021 Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International report, the 2018 Immigration and Refugee Board Audit, and the 2014 BC Coroners Inquest into the death of Lucía Vega Jiménez.
WHEN: Wednesday, May 4, 2022, at 8:30am PST / 11:30pm EST
WHERE: Via Zoom: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/82072890542?pwd=NlcvalhVc00zNk9BUFlmNEVNUXhtUT09
- Meghan McDermott, Policy Director, BCCLA
- Julia Sande, Human Rights Law & Policy Campaigner, Amnesty International
- Wamaitha Kinuthia, Urban Advocay & Research Lead, Justice for Girls
- Hanna Gros, Researcher, Disability Rights Division, Human Rights Watch
- Abdelrahman Elmady, a person with lived experiences in immigration detention
Owen Cameron, BCCLA: [email protected] or 604-630-9750 ext. 106
Samer Muscati, Human Rights Watch: +1-437-886-2505; or [email protected]