Hundreds of Canadian children held in immigration detention, report shows. The Globe and Mail, February 23, 2017.

Average of 48 Canadian kids held in immigration detention each year, study finds. Toronto Star, February 23, 2017.

Canadian children ‘locked up’ in immigration detention centres, report says. CBC News, February 23, 2017.

Plus de 200 enfants canadiens incarcérés par l’Agence des services frontaliers à Toronto depuis 2011. Radio-Canada, February 23, 2017.

Immigration, enfants détenus: Isabelle Richer reçoit Jenny Jeanes. Radio-Canada, Oct 7, 2016

Stop detaining migrant children in holding centres: Editorial. Toronto Star, Oct 7, 2016.

Migrants shouldn’t be shut out of human rights protection. Marie-Claude Landry
Chief Commissioner, Canadian Human Rights Commission.

Jailing migrant children violates law: advocates. Montreal Gazette, Oct 5, 2016.

Haro à la détention des enfants en instance d’expulsion. Le Devoir, Oct 5, 2016

Immigration detention of children and families must end. Rachel Kronick, Toronto Star, Oct 4, 2016

Canada violating international law by jailing 100s of migrant children. National Post, Oct 4, 2016

French Press Release

Media Advisory

Leading Medical, Legal and Human Rights Groups Slam Ottawa over Immigration Detention of Children

(Toronto, October 4, 2016) Forty-­six of Canada’s leading medical, legal and human rights organizations have signed on to a statement released today urging the Canadian government to urgently stop its harmful practice of detaining children for immigration purposes and separating families.

The organizations supporting the statement include the Canadian Paediatric Society, College of Family Physicians of Canada, Ordre des travailleurs sociaux et des thérapeutes conjugaux et familiaux du Québec, Ontario’s Association of Children’s Aid Societies, Amnesty International, the Canadian Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, Children’s Aid Society of Toronto, Registered Nurses’ Association of Ontario, Justice for Children and Youth, Legal Aid Ontario’s Refugee Law Office, University of Toronto’s International Human Rights Program, and the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association. Three hundred and forty two doctors, healthcare providers, professors, lawyers and others have also endorsed the statement.

“The statement released today urges the Canadian government to recognize that children should neither be detained nor separated from their families, and to implement community-based alternatives to immigration detention,” said Andrew Brouwer, senior legal counsel at the Refugee Law Office of Legal Aid Ontario. “It is time for Canada to live up to its legal and moral obligations.”

In recent years, hundreds of children have been detained in Canada for immigration-­related reasons. They spend their days under constant surveillance in secure facilities, exposed to guard pat-­downs and barbed wire fences, with minimal access to outdoor areas, education and play. They lack healthy food and have sleep difficulties. “Children who are detained or separated from their families experience extreme psychological distress,” said Rachel Kronick, an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at McGill University. “Even short periods of detention or family separation can generate  significant suffering and mental health problems for children, and these reactions can endure long after release.”

The statement calls for Canada to live up to its domestic and international legal obligations, including its obligation under the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

There are viable alternatives to immigration detention that allow families to live together in the community. On September 22, 2016, the International Human Rights Program at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law released a 70-page report, “‘No Life for a Child’: A Roadmap to End Immigration Detention of Children and Family Separation.” The report reviews alternatives to immigration detention and family separation, and provides 11 recommendations to ensure Canada complies with its international law obligations.

This statement follows an increasing outcry by medical, legal and human rights communities regarding immigration detention issues, including indefinite immigration detention, the deaths of 15 immigration detainees in the custody of Canada Border Services Agency since 2000, and the housing of detainees – including those with mental illness – in maximum-­security jails.

Andrew Brouwer
Senior Counsel, Refugee Law Office

Samer Muscati
Director, International Human Rights Program
University of Toronto Faculty of Law

Janet Cleveland, PhD
Psychologist and researcher
Centre de recherche Sherpa

Rachel Kronick
Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry
McGill University
Centre de recherche Sherpa