Democracy Gone Astray

Democracy, being a human construct, needs to be thought of as directionality rather than an object. As such, to understand it requires not so much a description of existing structures and/or other related phenomena but a declaration of intentionality.
This blog aims at creating labeled lists of published infringements of such intentionality, of points in time where democracy strays from its intended directionality. In addition to outright infringements, this blog also collects important contemporary information and/or discussions that impact our socio-political landscape.

All the posts here were published in the electronic media – main-stream as well as fringe, and maintain links to the original texts.

[NOTE: Due to changes I haven't caught on time in the blogging software, all of the 'Original Article' links were nullified between September 11, 2012 and December 11, 2012. My apologies.]

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

Canada Border Services Agency Slammed For Secrecy Over Deaths

OTTAWA — The federal border agency is hiding behind privacy law when it refuses to discuss the death of an immigrant in custody, say groups who want more independent oversight of the agency.

The Canada Border Services Agency detains people who are considered a flight risk or a danger to the public, those who arrive in very large groups, and newcomers whose identities cannot be confirmed.

Since the border agency was established in 2003, 11 people have died in custody — two in federal holding centres and nine in provincial facilities, according to the agency.

The two most recent deaths happened in the span of a week in March, reigniting calls for more scrutiny of the organization, which has many of the powers of a police service.

In each case, the border agency issued a brief statement without the individual's name or information about how they died.

An agency spokeswoman said the federal Privacy Act prevented the release of details.

During a teleconference Thursday, several human rights and refugee groups challenged that claim.

Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International Canada, called it an "exaggerated reading" of the Privacy Act.

He noted the law allows agencies to invoke exceptions in the public interest or in the interest of the person whose personal information is involved.

Federal agencies have obligations under the Privacy Act, but the fact that a death occurs in border agency custody, and the circumstances around it, should become public, said Josh Paterson, executive director of the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association.

"They definitely need to be more transparent in relation to their operations."

Monia Mazigh of the Ottawa-based International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group said the lack of available information amounted to excuses — attempts to avoid discussion of tragic deaths and the actions that caused them.

The office of Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said recently the government was examining how best to provide the border agency "with appropriate review mechanisms."

Neve said the silence around deaths underscores the importance of effective review and oversight, so that issues around privacy can be "more reliably and independently worked out."

Original Article
Author:  Jim Bronskill

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