Federal audit shows “shocking” lack of fairness in the way immigration detainees are treated, says legal group

July 20, 2018

OTTAWA (July 20, 2018) – The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers reacted to the federal government’s late-Friday-afternoon release of the audit of long-term detention reviews at the Immigration and Refugee Board (“IRB”). The auditors reviewed 312 IRB detention review hearings conducted across Canada between April 2016 and August 2017, in cases where a person had been detained for more than 100 days.

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers welcomes the Immigration and Refugee Board’s acceptance of the audit recommendations and commitment to implementing necessary reforms.

Lobat Sadrehashemi, President of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, stated: “The shocking results of this audit are indisputable proof of what advocates have been saying for years – immigration detention in Canada is cloaked in unfairness and in urgent need of systemic reform. We applaud the Immigration and Refugee Board for ordering this audit in response to concerns, for accepting the recommendations, and for beginning to implement significant changes to their practice. Any tribunal making decisions about people’s liberty must follow Canadian law and to ensure fair hearings.”

The audit also revealed very deep problems in how CBSA deals with detainees – from misleading the tribunal, to delaying investigations without justification, to failing to make relevant evidence available, to apparently intimidating tribunal members by their conduct. While the IRB notes in its response to the audit that some of these issues are addressed in CBSA’s new National Immigration Detention Framework, many of the CBSA issues identified by the auditors have yet to be addressed. Ms. Sadrehashemi stated: “The government must act quickly to start a process of profound, systemic change in how CBSA operates. This audit makes clear that CBSA has seriously failed in their obligation, as representatives of the federal government, to treat people fairly and according to law. This audit underlines why the government’s promise of CBSA oversight must be implemented without further delay.”

Available for comment:

Lobat Sadrehashemi: lobat@embarkation.ca