Ottawa mulls greater scrutiny of border agency after detainee deaths

March 16, 2016
Article Source
The Globe and Mail

The government is considering an oversight body for the Canada Border Services Agency following the deaths of two immigrant detainees in CBSA custody last week.

Rights and refugee groups have long called for independent oversight of the government agency and the creation of a civilian-led body to investigate deaths in custody. After the two recent deaths, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's office said the issue will be examined as part of the government's upcoming public consultations on Canada's national security framework.

“"he government is examining how best to provide the Canada Border Services Agency with appropriate review mechanism," said Mr. Goodale's press secretary, Scott Bardsley.

Mr. Goodale has said that he is open to considering an oversight body for the CBSA.

Josh Paterson, executive director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, said the organization is "encouraged" that the government will consider improved scrutiny of the CBSA.

"Any such mechanism has to be completely independent of CBSA," said Mr. Paterson in a statement Tuesday. "At a minimum, it must be able to receive and deal with public complaints and complaints from third parties, initiate its own reviews and investigations of CBSA conduct even when there is no complaint, and include independent civilian investigation of critical incidents of harm or death involving CBSA officers."

The CBSA can hold people who are a flight risk, pose a threat to public safety or whose identities cannot be confirmed. According to the End Immigration Detention Network, a migrant advocacy group, 14 immigration detainees have died in the CBSA's care since 2000, including the two deaths last week.

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