Rights groups want independent CBSA watchdog


VANCOUVER (NEWS1130) – The BC Civil Liberties Association is again stressing the need for an independent body that can review complaints and monitor the actions of the Canada Border Services Agency.

The BCCLA’s executive director, Josh Paterson, claims there may be cases where human rights violations have been committed by the CBSA but there is no way to look back at what happened in each case.

“There’s no procedure by which a person aggrieved as a result of the CBSA’s conduct can seek an independent review. This is something that we just take as a given for other police forces in Canada, and it is nowhere to be found.”

A public inquiry recommended oversight back in 2006, but no action has been taken by the government since.

Paterson says that an oversight body needs to be reviewing every aspect of the border agency and addressing any complaints.

“In a society that is bound by the rule of law, we find it deeply disturbing that officials with such wide ranging powers, wider in some cases than police forces, are not subject to any independent oversight.”

CBSA officers have powers of arrest, detention, search and seizure. At the border, they have the right to stop travellers for questioning, take breath and blood samples, and search, detain, and arrest non-citizens without a warrant, which are powers that exceed those of police.

The Canadian Council for Refugees presented three cases in particular they feel warrant independent investigation, including that of Lucia Vega Jimenez, who committed suicide in a holding facility at YVR last December.

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