Promoting the rights of immigration detainees

The Canadian Red Cross provides independent monitoring of detention facilities holding immigration detainees to promote a protective environment in which detainees are treated humanely and where their human rights and their inherent dignity are respected. This includes visiting federal immigration holding facilities and/or some provincial correctional facilities in Atlantic Canada, Quebec, Ontario, Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba (as of 2019).

Detention monitoring is part of the Canadian Red Cross’ humanitarian mandate to assist vulnerable people in Canada and around the world. The Canadian Red Cross has been involved in detention monitoring activities since 1999, following a request from Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) to assess the conditions of Chinese asylum seekers detained on the West coast. Following this request, the Red Cross signed a Memorandum of Understanding with CIC in 2002 and later with the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) in 2006. In 2017, an agreement was signed with the CBSA allowing for expansion of immigration detention monitoring activities.

Contact us

If you are interested in learning more about the how the Immigration Detention Monitoring Program works, please email -

A Red Cross employee providing documents for an imigration detainee to read.

Who are immigration detainees?

People detained under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act are not detained because they are facing criminal charges, but rather due to an immigration-related issue.

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A long hallway view of a detention centre.

Monitoring detention centres

The Canadian Red Cross visits detention centres on a regular basis to make an assessment based on domestic and international standards.

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Six people meet at a board room table.

A visit to a detention centre

Teams of trained and dedicated volunteers and staff, with a background in public health, social sciences or law, conduct visits to detention facilities.

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A Red Cross employee speaks with an imigration detainee - whose face is not shown.

Duty of Confidentiality

By following a strict policy of confidentiality, the Canadian Red Cross is able to gain the trust of immigration detainees

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