Model for CBSA accountability mechanism recommended

Media release

For immediate release
17 March 2016

Model for CBSA accountability mechanism recommended 

The Canadian Council for Refugees today released a proposed model for an external accountability mechanism for the Canada Border Services Agency. The proposal was sent to Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Ralph Goodale last week.

“Recent events have underlined the urgent need for an independent and effective accountability mechanism for the CBSA,” said Loly Rico, President. “In January a 16 year old Syrian boy seeking refuge in Canada spent three weeks in detention, in violation the rule that children are only to be detained as a last resort. More recently, we have been shocked by the deaths within one week of two men held in provincial jails under immigration detention. An independent mechanism would be able to look into events such as these in order to determine what went wrong.”

Like many others, the CCR has long called for an independent complaint and oversight body for the CBSA. While CBSA has sweeping police powers, including the power to arrest and detain people, there is no independent oversight body to review its actions and to ensure respect for the human rights of refugees, migrants, and Canadians who deal with the agency. Most other enforcement agencies in Canada, such as municipal and provincial police, and the RCMP, have various complaints and investigation agencies to supervise their conduct.

The CCR welcomes the recent statement by Minister Goodale about seeking appropriate review mechanisms for CBSA and offers the model as a contribution to the government’s deliberations. The CCR looks forward to meeting with the Minister to discuss this and other issues. 

For more information

The proposed model

Release, One year after Lucía Vega Jiménez's death, rights organizations condemn federal failure to make CBSA accountable, 12 February 2015

Release and backgrounder, Seven Years of Inaction: Rights organizations call for oversight mechanism in response to CBSA abuses,  5 March 2014


Janet Dench, Executive Director, 514-277-7223, 514-602-2098 (cell),