ONTARIO, Canada, Friday January 12, 2018 – Ontario’s top court ruled yesterday that the five years a mentally ill Jamaican spent in immigration custody before being deported to his homeland did not amount to cruel and unusual punishment.
The Court of Appeal upheld a lower court’s decision that Alvin Brown’s lengthy detention was neither arbitrary nor indefinite. It therefore did not agree with his lawyer that the father of six deserved $1,500 in damages for each day he had spent in immigration detention.
“Despite delays and unanticipated problems that resulted in the lengthy detention, (the incarceration) had not become illegal because there was a reasonable prospect of the removal being effected throughout the process,” the Appeal Court found.
“Although the (Canada Border Services Agency) encountered a number of problems and the delays were significant, these were largely caused by the Jamaican authorities.”
Brown arrived in Canada in 1983 at the age of eight years old and became a permanent resident in 1984. However, after some criminal convictions, that status was revoked in 2005.
Canada Border Services Agency detained him in early 2011 after he had served his time pending his removal.
According to CTV News, Brown spent the next five years in a maximum security prison trying unsuccessfully to have the removal order quashed. During that time, immigration officials tried to ensure he had the necessary travel documents. Jamaican officials wrangled over whether he was in fact a citizen and then raised questions over his mental health needs.
Brown was ultimately issued with travel papers and deported in September 2016.
And three months later, a Superior Court Justice ruled against his lawyer’s claim for compensation, ruling that there were no rights violations and that Brown had received adequate medical care while in custody. The judge found the detention was warranted given Brown’s history, and blamed Jamaican authorities for much of the delay in deporting him.