NEWSLETTER: Progressive Reforms and Missed Opportunities in Canada


Immigration Detention in Canada: Progressive Reforms and Missed Opportunities

Canada has adopted both progressive refugee policies and restrictive border control measures in recent years, including agreeing to accept more refugees than other countries while at the same time adopting policies that restrict asylum eligibility. Its immigration detention system has also continued to attract criticism, particularly because of the persistent use of prisons for immigration purposes, the carceral environments of its immigration detention centres, and its failure to adopt a maximum time limit for migration-related detention. The country continues to have important gaps in transparency and detention monitoring: It has failed to adopt the Optional Protocol to the UN Torture Convention—leaving the country without a National Preventive Mechanism—and does not provide up-to-date public information about prisons that are used to hold immigration detainees. Read the full report.

Global Detention Project Annual Report 2020

As we look back at 2020, the terrible impact of COVID-19 on the lives of migrants, asylum seekers, refugees, and other vulnerable non-citizens dominates our view. While the pandemic spurred critical changes in our work, our Annual Report reveals how we nevertheless managed to make important advancements in our objectives. Key achievements included:

  • ? The establishment of new partnerships with organisations operating across Africa, the Middle East, and Asia, who are a cornerstone of the data-driven advocacy work employing the GDP’s online database, the Global Immigration Detention Observatory.
  • ? The publication of our book Immigration Detention in the European Union: In the Shadow of the “Crisis” (Springer 2020), which quickly became a must-read on human rights and the evolution of immigration detention.
  • ?️ The launch of a re-designed website that provides easier access to our ever-deepening dataset on immigration detention.
  • ? The publication of more than two dozen country detention profiles and submissions to human rights monitoring bodies, covering every region of the world.
  • ? The launch of the COVID-19 Immigration Detention Platform (as of mid-March 2021, nearly a year to the date after we launched the platform, we had published more than 400 entries covering almost every country on the globe).

Read the full report.


Save the Date: Webinar – “Detention and Returns” (11 May 2021, 15.00 – 17.00 CEST)

On 11 May, the GDP will participate in a panel discussing civil society strategies for challenging abusive detention and returns practices, which is part of a “Civil Society Priorities Webinar Series” co-sponsored by Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA), the Cross-Regional Center for Refugees and Migrants (CCRM), the Global Research Forum on Diaspora and Transnationalism (GRFDT), the Civil Society Action Committee, Alianza Americas, Platform for International Cooperation on Undocumented Migrants (PICUM), and the Climate Migration & Displacement Platform. The webinar is the fourth of a five-part series aimed at addressing critical issues to be addressed at the International Migration Review Forum (IMRF) in 2022.  More information is available here.

Deportations Set to Continue in India, Despite Deadly Second COVID-19 Wave

In our latest COVID-19 immigration detention monitoring update, the GDP highlights the case of 170 Rohingya refugees detained awaiting deportation in India (Jammu, Kashmir). Despite several refugees challenging the deportation order, on 8 April the country’s Supreme Court rejected an application to stay the deportation of the group, despite violent unrest in Myanmar following the 1 February coup and surging coronavirus cases in India. During the hearing, the Chief Justice of India (CJI) commented: “Possibly that is the fear that if they go back to Myanmar, they will be slaughtered. But we cannot control all that. … We are not called upon to condemn or condone genocide.” Read the full update here. 

See also: Our latest COVID-19 monitoring updates on Cape Verde; the United Kingdom; and Burundi

Save the Date: Border Criminologies Panel on “Monitoring Detention and Borders” (24 May 2021, 11.30-13.30 GMT) 

As part of the Border Criminologies three-day online conference “Landscapes of Border Control and Immigration Detention in Europe,” the GDP’s executive director will chair a panel on monitoring detention and borders, which will include representatives from several regional and international human rights and detention monitoring institutions. The full line-up of speakers will be confirmed in coming days – but registration for the conference is now open here. 

UN Committee on Migrant Workers Adopts General Comment No.5 on Migrants’ Right to Liberty 

On 30 April, the UN Committee on the Rights of Migrant Workers (CMW) adopted its much-anticipated General Comment No. 5 on migrants’ right to liberty and freedom from arbitrary detention. The GDP, alongside other stakeholders, has played an active role in providing input to the committee during the development of the General Comment. Most recently, on 14 April, the GDP attended a CMW stakeholders meeting that included presentations from CMW members, states parties, and members of international organisations and NGOs. During the discussion, the GDP’s executive director stressed the important role that General Comment No.5 can play in contributing to the promotion of migrants’ rights in the context of detention and removal proceedings, emphasising the need to carefully define the role of  “alternatives to detention” as a legal mechanism that is intended to ensure that all detention decisions are tested against necessity and proportionality in order to prevent arbitrary detention. Read more.

See also: GDP Submission to the UN Committee on Migrant Workers – Draft General Comment No.5 on Migrants’ Right to Liberty and Freedom from Arbitrary Detention