In Canada, thousands of migrants are detained at any time, with up to one third of detainees in maximum and medium-security prisons despite most never having been charged with a crime. The recent Canada v. Chhina Supreme Court ruling allows detained migrants to access the remedy of habeas corpus so that, in appropriate cases, they can challenge the legality and conditions of their detention before a judge. However, critics like migration expert Sharry Aiken say it fails to address the underlying issues of how Canada sets the grounds for detention and the basis for release.

Migrant detention is actually a relatively new phenomenon in North America. For the participants of the recent De-Carceral Futures conference at the Queen’s School of Law, it’s something we can and must do away with. We attended the conference to interview some of the scholars and activists who are working toward a world in which neither migrants nor citizens are incarcerated.

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Photo: Jonathan Simon gives a keynote presentation at De-Carceral Futures. By Julia Bugiel.


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Sharry Aiken
Sharry Aiken is an associate professor at the Faculty of Law at Queen’s University. Her research interests include comparative refugee law and border policies.
Stephanie J. Silverman
Dr. Stephanie J. Silverman is a global expert on immigration detention, a partner at the human rights consultancy Thinking Forward, and the Canada country adviser for the International Detention Coalition.
Harsha Walia
Harsha Walia is a prominent writer and migrant-justice activist. She is the co-founder of No One Is Illegal and the author of Undoing Border Imperialism.
Kim Pate
Kim Pate is a senator. She is an adjunct law professor who has also spent the past four decades working with and on behalf of marginalized, victimized, criminalized and institutionalized youth, men and women.
Souheil Benslimane
Souheil Benslimane is a member of the Criminalization and Punishment Education Project and the coordinator of the Jail Accountability and Information Line.
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