The BCCLA joins the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, Canadian Council for Refugees, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association in renewing our urgent call for the establishment of an independent, civilian-led oversight body for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). The CBSA remains the only major law enforcement agency in Canada without an external oversight body.
This urgency has been made clear this last week by the case of Ebrahim Toure. Mr. Toure was first detained from February 2013 through September 2018, the vast majority of which was spent on immigration hold in a maximum security prison. He was transferred to an immigration holding centre in October 2017 after the Ontario Superior Court of Justice determined that his treatment constituted cruel and unusual treatment contrary to s. 12 of the Charter. Mr. Toure was re-detained this month, and his most recent detention review hearing brought to light serious misconduct on the part of CBSA in handling his case. In fact, the Immigration Division concluded that the CBSA officer’s evidence failed to meet the standard of credible and trustworthy as required under section 173(d) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. However, the Immigration Division does not have the jurisdiction to address the gross misconduct of the CBSA officer.
Mr. Toure’s case is a reminder that an independent accountability mechanism for CBSA cannot wait. We call on the federal government to re-introduce legislation to create a CBSA accountability mechanism, and to prioritize its consideration by committee in the coming months. Further, the government must ensure that the accountability mechanism for CBSA is adequately funded and effective, to avoid reproducing the kinds of structural deficiencies, capacity issues and delays evident in other federal law enforcement accountability bodies.
The introduction of an oversight body is only one of many changes required to ensure that people are treated justly by the CBSA.
Read the letter in full here.