Court hearing landmark challenge to indefinite immigration detention

May 16, 2017
Article Source
CTV News

A Federal Court in Toronto is hearing a historic constitutional challenge to Canadian laws that allow indefinite immigration detention.

The case being argued today centres around Alvin Brown. Lawyers representing Brown, who was held in custody in maximum-security prisons for five years, are arguing that his constitutional rights were violated.

Brown, now 40, moved to Canada when he was seven years old as a permanent resident. After living in the country for a few decades, he lost his permanent residency status after several criminal convictions. He spent five years in detention before he was separated from his family and deported to Jamaica last fall.

"It was horrible, I would have rather been dead than detained, not knowing when I would be released," Brown said in a press release on Monday. "I spent five years in there and I still can't get over it. The experience is trapped in my mind."

Jared Will, a lawyer representing Brown, asked the court today: "What protections must be in place when the state wields such powers of detention?"

Guidy Mamann, a Toronto immigration lawyer not involved in the case, told CTV News Channel that the court will have to decide whether or not continued detention under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act violates Section 7 and Section 9 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

"That is the right to not be arbitrarily detained or imprisoned against your constitutional rights," he explained.

Mamann said officials with the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) detain people for extended periods of time in order to coerce them into co-operating with their investigations. He said that a lot of the time someone will arrive in Canada without a passport or a birth certificate and the federal government will throw them in prison until they help them come up with a solution for their own deportation.

Read more: Court hearing landmark challenge to indefinite immigration detention