Detention Monitoring program
A citizen of another country may be detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) and held in an immigration detention centre because of questions about their legal right to be in Canada. Possible reasons include questions about their immigration status and uncertainty about their identity. Immigration detention is administrative and is not a punishment.
Why is the Canadian Red Cross involved?
The Canadian Red Cross is a neutral, impartial and independent organisation dedicated to improving the lives of vulnerable people by mobilizing the power of humanity. We are concerned about human rights and individual’s dignity and welfare in Canada and around the world.
Persons detained in Canada under IRPA are vulnerable because they have been deprived of their liberty and their movements are closely controlled. This vulnerability is further compounded for those that have experienced traumatic events. Immigration detainees may also be faced with difficult challenges as newcomers to Canada, including lack of social support and language barriers.
The Canadian Red Cross began monitoring immigration detention facilities in 1999 on the west coast of Canada in response to a request from the Government of Canada. The program now includes visits in Ontario, Quebec, Alberta and British Columbia. This program builds on the legacy of the International Committee of the Red Cross’ experience in monitoring detention conditions for prisoners of war and political prisoners worldwide.
How does the Canadian Red Cross protect the rights of detainees?
Through an agreement with the Canada Border Services Agency, the Canadian Red Cross visits detention centres on a regular basis. Conditions are monitored against both domestic and international standards. During visits to detention facilities, the Canadian Red Cross monitors:
- Conditions of detention
- Treatment by staff or other detainees
- Legal safeguards
- Contact with family members
Who makes the visits from the Canadian Red Cross?
Visits to detention centres are conducted by trained and dedicated volunteers and staff who work in teams.
What is the process when visiting an immigration detention centre?
Visits follow a standard procedure that includes:
- an initial discussion with the detaining authority;
- a tour of detainee accommodations and facilities (kitchen, sanitary installations, infirmary, dormitories, etc);
- private talks with detainees, individually or as a group;
- concluding discussion with the detaining authority.
As a neutral, independent body, and a member of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, we raise issues and any concerns about detention conditions directly with the detaining authorities. In order to ensure the continued trust of the individuals in detention and the authorities involved we do not publicly disclose the findings.