News and Articles

World Children’s Day: Conceptualizing the Best Interests of the Child in Canadian Immigration Law

November 20, 2020

The Samuel Family Foundation and SCSC have long been engaged in a partnership with Human Rights Watch (HRW)’s Disability Rights Division to document the impact of social isolation on people with disabilities and older people. SCSC supported the publication of two reports: improper social care assessments of older people in the United Kingdom and the use of chemical restraint on older people with dementia in Australia. SCSC Founder, Kim Samuel, and Senior Researcher at HRW’s Disability Rights Division, Emina Ćerimović, have also co-written an op-ed about the injustice of human chaining. Our Social Connectedness Fellows have worked with HRW over the years to better understand social isolation facing older women in the Canadian workforce, the experiences of migrants in the Canadian legal system, and Indigenous youth in the Canadian justice system.

Building on this longstanding relationship, SCSC and HRW have most recently embarked on a collaborative research project centered on identifying alternatives to migrant detention in Canada, with SCSC’s very own Vino Landry serving as an in-house researcher this summer. The project involves conducting a broad literature review inquiring into the efficacy and guiding principles of existing global alternatives to detention, interviews with lawyers, academics, former detainees, and social workers, and producing recommendations for best practices directed at the Canadian government. While the full HRW report is slated for publication in 2021, Vino drew on her research experience with Human Rights Watch this summer to produce a report examining the treatment of migrant children in Canada. SCSC is pleased to be publishing this report on World Children’s Day, which marks the date in 1989 on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Vino’s research focuses on the guiding principles of the Convention and explores how practices of child detention in Canada diverge from its legal obligations under the treaty. This report also adopts a critical race lens to examine how the interests of migrants are marginalized and subordinated, resulting in the institutionalization of the “unbelonging” of migrants. The report concludes with a set of recommendations targeted at legal scholars, community organizations, postsecondary institutions, and the federal government, intended to weave empathetic approaches into the immigration system.   

Click here to read the full report.