Supreme Court hears case on migrant detainees’ rights to challenge incarceration

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OTTAWA — A man from Pakistan wants Canadian law to give migrants being held in detention the ability to challenge their imprisonment in front of a judge.

The Supreme Court of Canada heard arguments today on a case asking for immigration detainees to be given access to “habeas corpus”— a legal provision allowing anyone being held in custody the right to challenge their detention before a judge.

Currently, migrants who do not hold Canadian citizenship can only challenge detention through an immigration tribunal or a judicial review.

The case was brought by a Pakistani man who sought refugee status in Canada in 2006, but was later detained after authorities learned he had a criminal record.

Lawyers for a long list of interveners in the case argue migrant detainees do not always receive a fair hearing by these methods, and sometimes end up incarcerated indefinitely.

But the federal government argues the current system is comprehensive and that extending habeas corpus to migrant detainees would create uncertainty in the legal processes involving these decisions.

The Canadian Press