ICRC

COPCAT Shorts – Why the ICRC works in prisons?

The Canadian Red Cross monitors places of immigration detention in Canada, including federally-run detention centres and provincial prisons. The organization does so for some of the same reasons as depicted in the above video.

Published by the Canadian Border Services Agency on 14 February 2019, a first report highlighted the findings of Canadian Red Cross monitoring of immigration detention in Canada in the period September 2017 to March 2018. A French version of this key report is also available on the same website.   

According to the Canadian Red Cross, it endeavours to visit detention centres to which it has access four times per year with a view to making an assessment based on Canadian and international standards. During visits to detention centres it focuses on the following aspects:

  • the treatment of detainees (by staff and other detainees);
  • conditions of detention;
  • ability for detainees to contact and maintain contact with family members;
  • and legal safeguards.
Special Issue
Detained abstracts 1 by Greenmonster (2010).

More detailed information about the above approach can be found in a previously published article on this website about the first Canadian Red Cross annual report. Its main components are also highlighted in the featured video clip.

The number of migrants deprived of their liberty in Canada is not at all insignificant. According to the Canada Border Services Agency, in the fiscal year 2017-2018 some 8,355 persons were detained for a total of nearly 120,000 detention days in Canada. Of this number, 6,609 persons were held in one of the country’s three Immigration Holding Centres, while the remainder were detained in provincial and other facilities.

Over the past year the Canada OPCAT Project has published various articles on the detention of migrants in Canada, including on the December 2018 recommendation of the UN Committee against Torture that a permanent oversight structure be instituted in the country. If ever ratified by Canada, any future NPM under the OPCAT would inevitably require unfettered access to all facilities where migrants are deprived of their liberty throughout the country.

Yet with seemingly little progress on the OPCAT ratification front, such an NPM might be long in the coming. Thus, for the here and now the Canadian Red Cross’ monitoring of immigration detention remains a key part of the Canadian detention oversight framework, for some of the reasons very well explained in the above ICRC video.


Read Juan Mendez’s article on the Right to a Healthy Prison Environment.

Learn More about the recently published Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty.

Find out more about the Joint UN Statement on Child Immigration Detention.

Read an OPCAT Focus on Immigration Detention.

Posted by mp in Children deprived of liberty, ICRC, Immigration detention, Independent detention monitors, OPCAT, Oversight bodies

COPCAT Shorts: Launch of ICPA Planning & Design Hub

The ICPA Planning and Design Hub strives to inspire, challenge and motivate architects, administrators and professionals from across the world to create more humane correctional facilities. The Hub includes projects, resources and discussion threads regarding exemplary practice in correctional planning and design. We believe that this website will be a valuable tool for all of you who are interested in the built environment. Thus far, projects and resources from several countries and various focus areas are posted.

Abstract from International Corrections & Prisons Association – ‘ICPA Launches a Planning and Design Hub’ at the following website.

Planning & Design Hub

Visit the ICPA Planning and Design Hub.

Lean more about the recent launch of the ICPA’s External Prison Oversight and Human Rights Network and read its first newsletter.

Read the related ICRC publication, Towards Humane Prisons: A Principled & Participatory Approach To Prisons Planning & Design.

Planning & Design

Posted by mp in Prisons, Publication, Tools

New ICRC Blog & Publications on Detention

In a new ICRC blog published this week, Helen Durham, the ICRC’s Director of International Law and Policy, serves up considerable food for thought in relation to the harsh realities faced by detainees in armed conflict and how the legal framework protecting such persons might be reinforced and translated into greater protection at the operational level. In her discussion the writer identifies three areas of work where she believes that the ICRC has contributed to enhanced protection. These include the on-going process of updating the commentary on the Third Geneva Convention (on the treatment of prisoners of war) as well as efforts to strengthen the protection of International Humanitarian Law vis-a-vis detainees in the context of non-international armed conflict.

For the purposes of this website, however, of more direct interest will be the writer’s focus on the ICRC’s work to contribute to better conditions of detention for persons who are held in prisons. In doing so, Helen highlights the two important ICRC publications illustrated below. According to the author:

“Building on its extensive experience in visiting prisons and engaging with prison authorities, the ICRC has just released a set of guiding principles on prison planning and design. The ICRC has also cooperated with leading academics to update a Handbook for Prison Staff on a ‘Human Rights Approach to Prison Management’. These are very concrete tools that I can warmly recommend to anyone involved in prison planning and management.”

While certain Canadian human rights and criminal justice actors may well be familiar with earlier editions of this updated version of the publication, A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management (issued with the Centre for Criminal Policy Research in 2018), others may be less familiar with Towards Humane Prisons (also published in 2018). Both publications (which are currently available in English) can be obtained by clicking on the images below.

ICRC blog publication            ICRC blog publications

Please note that the 2nd edition of A Human Rights Approach to Prison Management is available in French.

Other ICRC publications of interest can be found under Other Resources.

Posted by mp

New ICRC publication: Detention – Addressing the human cost

Human rights actors may be interested to know that the current International Review of the Red Cross (IRRC No. 903) by the ICRC is devoted to the issue of the cost of detention for the detainee, their family and community at large. Titled ‘Detention: Addressing the human costs’ the ICRC publication’s stated focus is as follows:

“Detention can take various forms, but the deprivation of liberty inevitably carries costs that fall on the detainee, their family and the community at large. These costs, both individual and collective, are often linked to other, financial costs that authorities are unwilling to incur on behalf of a group of people who are out of sight. This short-termist calculation has serious implications for prisoners today, and for our societies in the future. Objectively assessing the human, social, political and financial costs of detention policies is essential to avoid detention becoming part of the problem it was meant to solve. In this edition, the Review takes stock of developments in detention practices and policies, and focuses on a range of challenges related to maintaining human dignity in detention, including overcrowding and aging prison populations. In drawing attention to the ongoing challenges associated with detention, the Review seeks to promote the human dignity of detainees.”

The ICRC publication can be downloaded free-of-charge by clicking on the image.

Posted by mp in Places of detention, Police stations, Prisons