Immigration Detention in Canada and Abroad: What Is the Cost of Liberty?

With Stephanie J. Silverman

The reintroduction in Parliament of The Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada's Immigration System Act (Bill C-4, formerly Bill C-49) in June 2011, was met with intense public debate, including Parliamentary questions, street protests, and media reports. The eventual compromise (Bill C-31, The Protecting Canada's Immigration System Act) became law in June 2012 after months of seesawing on the shape of its provisions. Amongst the contentious issues is the newly legislated mandatory detention, or incarceration, of select groups of immigrants and refugees over 16 years of age for 12-month periods of time. Detention often leads to mental and physical decline in detainees, skyrocketing financial costs, and deterioration in legal access, accountability, and judicial oversight. It also raises fundamental questions about the primacy of rights to liberty, equality, and freedom in Canada. Further, there is virtually no evidentiary proof that the threat of detention deters people from migrating without visas. Yet, while unheralded in Canada, mandatory detention is increasingly commonplace around the world as countries grapple with increased irregular migration and broadening security concerns. This conversation is intended to delve into all sides of the debate on the use of immigration detention in Canada, and to contextualize the policy and practice in its global setting, including the Australian, US, and UK contexts.


About Stephanie J. Silverman

Stephanie J. Silverman is a post-doctoral fellow at the Nathanson Centre on Transnational Human Rights, Crime and Security, Osgoode Hall Law School, York University and a research fellow at the Refugee Research Network. She has recently completed her doctorate in politics at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar. She has published research on immigration detention, normative ethics, public policy, and migration studies, and is co-editor of a forthcoming book on the global spread of immigration detention policies and their impacts on asylum seekers.


Free event with limited seating, so please register.

Location: Ryerson University, Ted Rogers School of Management, Room 1-148
55 Dundas St. West (Entrance), Toronto, ON M5B 2K3 view map
Date: Wednesday, April 17, 2013
Time: 6:00-8:00 p.m.
Admission: Free
Light snacks will be served
Register at: or call 416-494-1440 ext. 225

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