Federal Court to Hear Historic Constitutional Challenge to Immigration Detention

The Federal Court of Canada is set to hear a historic case on Monday, May 15, challenging the constitutionality of Canada’s immigration law and the federal government’s much-criticized practice of indefinite immigration detention. This is the first time that Canada Border Services Agency, which is not subject to an oversight body, will be called on to justify its practice of long-term imprisonment.

The case concerns 40 year old Alvin Brown, a Jamaican citizen.  Brown came to Canada at the age of five.  He suffers from schizophrenia.  He was stripped of his permanent residency status following a series of criminal convictions. Lawyers allege he spent five years in immigration detention at maximum security prisons where he was denied mental supports, and separated from his children.  According to the CBC he is seeking $1500/day for each day of incarceration.

Canada is one of the few western countries without a time limit on detentions.  Detainees, advocates, and the United Nations have criticized the lack of fair judicial oversight in the federal system. The End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN), a party in the case, will be presenting arguments that indefinite immigration detention is in violation of international law and sections 7, 9, and 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.