Migrant deaths in Canada lead to calls for greater scrutiny

After two migrants die in detention in Canada rights groups seek greater scrutiny of border authorities

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau listens while he is introduced before his speech at the US Chamber of Commerce in Washington March 31, 2016

The deaths of two migrants while in detention in Canada has led to calls for better policing of border authorities after the country agreed to accept thousands of Syrian refugees.

Several human right groups have suggested there is a need to supervise the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

Chilean Francisco Astorga, 39, and 64-year-old Melkioro Gahungu of Burundi were confirmed dead by the CBSA last month.

Loly Rico, president of the Montreal-based Canadian Council for Refugees, stated that the deaths create "longstanding concerns about the lack of independent oversight for CBSA."

"It is beyond unconscionable now that there continues to be no independent oversight of Canada's immigration detention facilities,"  secretary general of Amnesty International Canada,  Alex Neve, said.

The growing number of deaths in Canadian immigration custody makes it clear that there is a terrible human cost," he added.

The End Immigration Detention Network advocacy group has stated fourteen immigrants have died in detention in Canada since 2000.

The names of the migrants who died were not confirmed by the CBSA because of privacy restrictions, a CBSA spokesperson said.

If foreigners cannot prove their identity or are considered a threat to public safety CBSA can arrest them without a warrant.

Canada's Prime MInister Justin Trudeau decided to accept more than 25,000 Syrian refugees into the country.

Last year, more than 4,000 migrants were detained by Canada's immigration services, according to government data compiled by the Canadian Council for Refugees.

The human rights advocates said that CBSA is the only enforcement agency that is not obliged to answer to any authority.

Canadian Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale's office said on March that the government was exploring a new "appropriate review mechanism" for the agency.

TRTWorld and agencies