(From the Canadian Counsel for Refugees Media release)

Supreme Court case gives opportunity to protect non-citizens’ right to challenge unlawful detention

The Canadian Council for Refugees is intervening in the Chhina case addressing immigration detention, which will be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada today.

The CCR is arguing that immigration detainees should be able to challenge the lawfulness of their detention through habeas corpus. While the case of Mr Chhina involved long-term detention, the fundamental right to liberty needs to be protected whenever a person is detained. This is crucial given the potentially devastating impact of detention, even for short periods, particularly for children, refugee claimants, trafficked persons and individuals suffering from mental health issues.

The external audit of detention reviews at the Immigration and Refugee Board, released earlier this year, confirms what the CCR has been saying for a long time – that detention decisions are frequently unfair and that there is tremendous regional variation in decisions to detain and maintain in detention.

The CCR’s submission to the Supreme Court argues that people detained under the immigration legislation do not always receive a fair hearing by an impartial decision-maker, as illustrated by the audit and decisions of other courts.

The CCR is represented in this case by Erica Olmstead, Peter Edelmann and Molly Joeck.

The CCR’s factum is available here.