Refugee Abuses in Canadian Jails

On October 14, 2021, Human Rights Watch released a report supported by Amnesty International about abuses of immigration detainees in provincial jails in Canada. Human Right Watch is urging the Canadian government to sever their contracts to hold detainees in provincial jails “where they may remain with no end in sight, provincial authorities are implicated in Ottawa’s human rights abuses.” Samer Muscati, associate disability rights director at Human Rights Watch.

“I was arrested without charge and my belongings were taken, including the batteries for my hearing aid,” Abdelrahman Elmady, an Egyptian man with a hearing disability said in one of the campaign videos released on October 14, 2021. He described his detention in three provincial jails in British Columbia after fleeing to Canada to seek asylum. “My whole life I have relied on hearing aids, but suddenly I was in prison, confused, scared, and unable to hear anything. Nobody told me how long I would be detained.

In their recent report, “‘I Didn’t Feel Like a Human in There’: Immigration Detention in Canada and Its Impact on Mental Health,” Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International documented the serious human rights violations that people face in immigration detention in Canada. Immigration detainees include people who are fleeing persecution, seeking a better life, and some who have lived in Canada since childhood.

Immigration detainees are not held on criminal charges or convictions, but many experience some of the country’s most restrictive confinement conditions, including maximum-security provincial jails and solitary confinement. Immigration detainees are handcuffed, shackled, and held with little to no contact with the outside world. In provincial jails, many are confined in dangerous environments where they may be subjected to violence.”

Immigration detainees from communities of color, particularly detainees who are Black, appear to be detained for longer periods and often in provincial jails rather than immigration holding centers. People with psychosocial disabilities (or mental health conditions) experience discrimination throughout the detention process. Immigration detention has especially harmful effects on communities of color, refugee claimants, children, and families.”

Canada: Stop Incarcerating Immigration Detainees in Provincial Jails, Published on October 14, 2021, by Human Rights Watch.


Sharam Kohan

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