Deterrence through Detention: The Implications for Asylum in Canada and the UK

31 January 2013, 17:30 - 19:00

Janet Cleveland, Psychologist and Researcher, Transcultural Research and Intervention Team, Division of Social and Cultural Psychiatry, McGill University
Organised by:
Human Rights Consortium
Event Type:
Room 264 (Senate House, second floor)
Venue Details:

Senate House
Malet Street
London WC1E 7HU


The 2010 report of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to the General Assembly observed a “clear trend towards introducing laws to deter and criminalize asylum-seekers who arrived irregularly” (p. 7).  This disturbing trend appears to be evident in both the UK and Canada.  Following soon after a high-profile boat arrival off Canada’s west coast in the summer of 2010, the Canadian government announced plans to combat human smuggling.  Originally titled the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, the provisions of this Bill were rolled into a set of refugee reforms that came into effect in late 2012.  While titularly addressed to human smugglers, opposition parties and refugee advocates contend that, in fact, refugees will be most affected by the measures contained in the legislation.  The Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is now empowered to designate groups of asylum seekers as “irregular arrivals.”  Concerns have been raised about both the legal and the mental health implications of mandatory detention.  Indeed, a recent report commissioned by the UNHCR found that 27 percent of immigration detainees in Canada are jailed with the general prison population (Nakache 2011).  Immigration detention has become a growth industry in the UK and to a lesser extent in Canada.  This joint public seminar will examine detention practices and their deterrent effects in Canada and the UK, with a particular focus on the impacts of detention on refugee claimants and their families.

'The Challenge of Change: Confronting Asylum Law and Practice in the UK and Canada’

The Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) is pleased to inaugurate this new seminar series in collaboration with the Centre for Refugee Studies at York University, Canada. The overall objective of the series is to develop an exchange of comparative perspectives on the implications for refugee protection of recent legal reform in Canada and the United Kingdom. 

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