Petition calls for independent review of CBSA powers, Mexican woman's death

February 6, 2014
Article Source
Vancouver Sun

Created amid a climate of fear after the 2001 terror attacks, the Canada Border Services Agency has emerged as a powerful but secretive organization with the ability to effectively arrest, prosecute and punish non-Canadians with little or no judicial or public oversight.

Critics say the Harper government needs to rein in the CBSA following the agency's latest controversy, involving the suicide of a Mexican national who hanged herself while being detained at the agency's Vancouver International Airport detention facility.

The public only learned of the incident more than a month after Lucia Vega Jimenez's death in mid-December, and the agency's molasses-slow communications branch released only drops of information over several days in response to a media storm.

"It's an authoritarian organization," said Vancouver immigration lawyer Lawrence Wong of the $1.7 billion-a-year agency that has a staff of roughly 14,000 employees across Canada.

Human rights organizations, opposition MPs and other immigration lawyers use somewhat more restrained language, but all argue that the CBSA needs an oversight body similar to those that watch over the RCMP and the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

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