Child detention in the Canadian immigration system

Between 2010 and 2014, an average of 242 children were detained annually for immigration reasons in Canada, according to the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto. Worth noting here that the numbers are actually higher and do not include children who are not in detention themselves, but who accompany a parent who is detained.

This week, Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) responded and issued a News Release, opening with these statements (links and emphasis added):

“As part of the Government of Canada’s work to create a better, fairer immigration detention system, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, today issued Ministerial Direction to the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the treatment of minors in Canada’s immigration detention system. This direction is in addition to improvements currently being made to the system.

The key objective of the Ministerial Direction is to – as much as humanly possible – keep children out of detention, and keep families together. The Ministerial Direction makes it clear that the Best Interests of the Child must be given primary consideration”.

Best Interests of the Child, or BIOC, is language from the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Canada is a party. It means that the BIOC must be “a primary consideration in all state actions concerning children”.

In addition to the Ministerial Direction, CBSA also released:

A critical responses from the field comes from the Canadian Council for Refugees. Read The CCR welcomes government directives to reduce detention of children, but more needs to be done.

Resources:

Kobina: Locked Up, Canadian Human Rights Commission

Canada Keeps Kids in Detention, a resource page of the Canadian Council for Refugees CCR Youth Network

Nov 6, 2017 CBC report

Canada’s Detention of Children, Human Rights Watch