Opinion Column


Oversight needed to see if contracted security guards are qualified 0

By Laila Yuile, The Duel

Mexican journalist living in Surrey raises questions after allegations the sister of deceased Mexican detainee Lucia Vega Jimenez signed a confidentiality agreement. (FILE PHOTO)

Mexican journalist living in Surrey raises questions after allegations the sister of deceased Mexican detainee Lucia Vega Jimenez signed a confidentiality agreement. (FILE PHOTO)


Columnists Laila Yuile and Brent Stafford battle over the issues of the day. The winner of last week’s duel on the transit referendum was Laila with 64%.

This week’s topic: Should the Canadian Border Services Agency be held responsible for the death of Lucia Vega Jimenez?

Brent’s submission this week is thoughtful and pointed, speaking to several issues far bigger than just the tragic death of Lucia Vega Jimenez. There is always room for future debate on Canada’s immigration policies, as well as the greater responsibility of handling refugee claims and deportation proceedings in a humane manner.

Without a doubt, it was Jimenez who undertook the specific actions that ultimately led to her death. Sadly, nobody seems to know what specifically drove her to hang herself, although it’s clear she greatly feared a return to her native Mexico. She also had reportedly suffered a betrayal via theft of her savings by a boyfriend.

Read Brent Stafford's column

While Brent conditionally absolves the Canadian Border Services Agency of all wrongdoing in this particular incident, he fails to address the many lingering questions left behind after the RCMP investigation was closed. How does one have the ability to hang themselves while in custody in a monitored facility? How often are detainees checked? Who is responsible for checking them? What are their qualifications and are those employees capable of recognizing the signs of emotional duress?

CBSA has not been forthcoming with any information. Nor has CBSA commented on the contracting out of the B.C. immigration holding centres operations or staffing to Genesis Security Group, which has a contract worth $6.2 million that ends March 31, according to the federal government bid site.

According to a CBSA document presented to refugee lawyers last year, Genesis Security is responsible for all logistics and transport of detainees at the Vancouver airport holding centre, using security guards. These guards fall under the oversight of the CBSA, but are not border services agents. That’s a big factor being examined in the media right now. There can be no comparison between the training and expertise of contracted security guards and border service agents.

It’s issues like these that are coming to light in the death of Jimenez. In a report to Parliament in 2013, the standing committee on citizenship and immigration recommended that holding centres review operating standards and establish operational procedures. Did they? Unfortunately, there is no independent oversight body that CBSA must report to and no one to enforce recommendations made.

When a death in custody occurs from anything other than natural causes, the ultimate responsibility lies with the agency in charge. The Jimenez case is no exception.

Laila Yuile is an independent writer, blogger and political commentator. You can read her blog at lailayuile.com


Who wins this week's duel on CBSA's role on the death of Lucia Vega Jimenez?

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