Legal Aid Alberta takes steps to address gaps in detention review hearings

Legal Aid Alberta (LAA) hosted training sessions this month for its roster immigration lawyers on how to effectively prepare for and conduct Detention Review hearings.

When a foreign national or permanent resident is detained by Canada Border Security Agency, a Detention Review Hearing will take place within 48 hours to determine if there is a reason under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act to continue detention.

If the individual is not released at the 48-hour review, the next Detention Review must be scheduled within 7 days of the 48-hour review, and if the individual is not released at the 7-day review, the next Detention Review must be scheduled within 30 days of the 7-day review, and every 30 days thereafter.

LAA will appoint a lawyer to represent a detained person for their Detention Review hearing. Having counsel present to represent these clients is essential to ensure access to justice for detained individuals.

One of the findings from an audit of the Immigration Division in 2018 demonstrated that there were discrepancies across the province in the provision of representation for detention reviews. As a result of these findings and input from staff lawyers and roster counsel, LAA has made improvements to help address this gap and ensure counsel is appointed at the earliest possible stage.

LAA has established a specialized list of immigration lawyers in Edmonton and Calgary to take on Detention Review matters on very short notice. During the month of February, LAA is providing specialized training to these lawyers so they are able to deal with Detention Reviews efficiently and effectively.

“LAA is committed to ensuring clients receive high-quality representation from its lawyers and to play an active role in providing education to the roster in unique areas of practice,” said Andrea Doyle, Senior Advisory Counsel for Family & Immigration Law. “This training will allow detained clients to receive timely representation for detention reviews from roster lawyers who have had the benefit of training and continued mentorship from Legal Aid Alberta’s subject matter experts.”

On February 7, 2020, twenty roster lawyers attended the training session in Calgary. This session was organized and facilitated by Andrea Doyle, Senior Advisory Counsel for Family & Immigration Law, and immigration staff lawyer, Juliette Ukpabi, who presented on how to effectively prepare for and run a Detention Review. On February 14, 2020, twelve more roster lawyers attended the same session in Edmonton, where staff lawyer Ruth Williams presented

The goal of these sessions is to provide the roster lawyer with special training on how to prepare for and conduct a detention review hearing, including tips and tricks on dealing with the client and finding and preparing a bonds person. Written and electronic materials are also provided to attendees, including materials that they are can make use of and modify to meet their practice needs.

In the photo: Juliette Ukabi, LAA immigration staff lawyer, delivering Detention Review training to roster lawyers in Calgary on February 7, 2020.

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