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Jackman Law Building, J140

78 Queen's Park, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, Jackman Law Building Atrium

Toronto, Ontario

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Immigration Detention Symposium

On Friday March 15th 2019 the Asper Centre will convene a one-day Immigration Detention Symposium focused on advancing litigation and advocacy strategies to address the challenges within Canada’s immigration detention system. The Symposium will highlight immigration detention practitioners' and civil society’s current advocacy efforts, recommendations and resources for achieving meaningful solutions to the challenges.

Background

In March 2018, the Asper Centre convened a public interest litigation conference, which included a panel that focused on litigation strategies in immigration detention cases. The panelists discussed some of the serious challenges that, in order to effectively address, would require a continued strategic and coordinated advocacy response. In July 2018 the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) released an External Audit Detention Review report (External Audit), which confirmed that "...a Charter-compliant standard of robust and meaningful review is not being consistently met in detention review hearings, and that, in some cases, the Charter rights of detained persons were breached by continued ID-ordered detention.”

In response to the IRB’s External Audit, the Asper Centre co-convened a group of experts to draft a response with recommendations to the IRB’s External Audit report. This soon to be released External Audit Response report was principally drafted by Hanna Gros of UTLaw's International Human Rights Program (IHRP), with Asper Centre Clinic and IHRP students' research assistance, and in consultation with the immigration bar, academics, and civil society.

Symposium Objective

The main objective of this Symposium is to bring together the relevant legal, research and advocacy partners who are focused on improving the serious deficiencies in the immigration detention system in Canada. We hope to help highlight some of the important responses and strategies currently being developed and implemented in this area, and that this opportunity for sharing and collaboration will encourage continued strategic litigation collaboration and coordinated advocacy efforts amongst the immigration bar and beyond.

Symposium Panels

I. Immigration Detention External Audit Response Report: Recommendations and Next Steps

This panel will unpack the conclusions and recommendations of the Immigration Detention External Audit Response Report and will facilitate a discussion identifying the areas, arguments and cases for further litigation and advocacy. The panelists include the key authors of the report and members of the bar who made significant contributions to the report.

II. Habeas Corpus Best Practices

While the SCC’s decision in Chhina will provide clarification on the scope of the writ of habeas corpus, this panel will focus on practical strategies for filing habeas corpus claims for immigration detainees. Access and procedure tips, arguments for challenging the lawfulness and reasonableness of a continued deprivation of liberty, arguments in “danger to the public” cases, and how to utilize Section 11 of the Charter will be discussed.

III. CARL Toolkit and a Compendium of Relevant Case-Law for Immigration Detention Practitioners

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) has developed an Immigration Detention Toolkit, which it will be launching shortly. This toolkit will help familiarize counsel with the main findings of the IRB's External Audit and provide tips, steps and suggestions on how counsel can ensure the fairest process possible for our clients. The Toolkit advises how to, among other things:(a) to prepare for a detention review, (b) develop and present alternatives to detention, (c) present and test oral or other kinds of evidence, (d) respond to multiple detention reviews; (e) follow up post-hearing. As well, the Toolkit provides tips on how to work with detainees with mental health issues, addictions and other vulnerabilities.

The IRB’s External Audit confirmed that in many of the Immigration Division’s hearings and decisions, “…there were notable discrepancies between the expectations articulated by the courts and the practice of the Immigration Division.” Three Asper Centre Clinic students who provided research for the drafting of the External Audit Response Report have created a Compendium/Summary of the relevant case law in which the courts articulate what a legally sound and fair immigration hearing should look like. This Compendium of cases, which will serve to complement the CARL toolkit, will also be presented at this panel.

Symposium SCHEDULE with complete list of panel members to be added shortly.


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Jackman Law Building, J140

78 Queen's Park, University of Toronto, Faculty of Law, Jackman Law Building Atrium

Toronto, Ontario

Canada

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