IHRP heads to Geneva to raise the issue of immigration detention with the UN

Friday, July 3, 2015

July 3, 2015 - The International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto Faculty of Law (IHRP) will be in Geneva on July 7 and 8 for Canada’s review by the UN Human Rights Committee, the expert body tasked with ensuring compliance with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. 

In advance of the session, on July 6, Renu Mandhane, executive director of the IHRP, will make a formal presentation to the Committee, which is comprised of 18 independent human rights experts from around the world. She will inform the Committee of Canada’s failure to adequately protect the rights of immigration detainees with mental health issues who are routinely detained in provincial jails.  A copy of the IHRP’s “shadow report” to the Committee is available online.

Mandhane’s submissions to the UN will be based on the IHRP’s ground-breaking report released last month, We Have No Rights”: Arbitrary Imprisonment and Cruel Treatment of Migrants with Mental Health Issues in Canada. The report, which has been downloaded more than 10,000 times, received coverage in all major Canadian news outlets (print, radio, and television). The report was co-authored by Hanna Gros and Paloma van Groll, students who were enrolled in the IHRP’s award winning legal clinic.

States parties to the Covenant are reviewed every four years, culminating in the Committee making “concluding observations and recommendations” to improve the state’s compliance with binding human rights obligations under the treaty. Canada is expected to provide an official response, or “periodic report”, on its progress towards implementing the Committee’s recommendations prior to its next review.

“By raising awareness about the arbitrary and lengthy detention of migrants with mental health issues, we hope the international community will put pressure on Canada to end rights violations affecting vulnerable non-citizens” said Mandhane, “We will be asking the UN Human Rights Committee to recommend that Canada increase oversight over the Canada Border Services Agency, and adopt a mandatory limit of 90 days for immigration detention.”

Canada’s review will focus on the prohibition of torture, the right to liberty and security of person, freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and non-discrimination, especially vis-à-vis Aboriginal people. The review will be live webcast on July 7 from 9 a.m.-12 p.m. EST; and on July 8 from 4 a.m.-7 a.m. EST (an archive will also be available).

Please consider raising awareness about Canada’s review through social media:

UN #HRCttee to consider #Canada’s treatment of immigration detainees July 7/8 @UTLaw report #ihrpmigrantrights: tinyurl.com/nwhd66t 

Canada to be reviewed by UN #HRCttee July7/8; immigration detention on agenda @UTLaw report #ihrpmigrantrights: tinyurl.com/nwhd66t 

Available for Comment:

Renu J. Mandhane (Ms.), B.A., J.D., LL.M.

Executive Director

International Human Rights Program

University of Toronto, Faculty of Law

Tel: 416.946.8730

Email: renu.mandhane@utoronto.ca