Open Letter to Minister Blaney On the Death of Lucia Vega Jimenez in CBSA Custody

January 30, 2014

The Honourable Steven Blaney, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Public Safety

House of Commons Ottawa, Ontario

K1A 0A6

Dear Minister Blaney,

As I am sure you are well aware, the death of Lucia Vega Jimenez, a Mexican woman facing imminent deportation, occurred in December while she was in the custody of the Canada Border Services Agency (CSBA) at the Vancouver airport.  This tragic death has sparked an outcry from the public demanding answers as to how this could have happened.  While it is true that the BC Coroner’s Service is investigating this death, that inquiry will only determine cause of death and will not address questions of accountability for those under CBSA custody.

As Minister of Public Safety, you are responsible for the actions of the CBSA and any private security services provided to the CBSA.  In order to make sure that an incident like this does not occur again there must be a full, transparent, and independent investigation into the circumstances of Lucia Vega Jimenez’s death.  What provisions have you made to make sure such an inquiry takes place and that it does so in a timely manner?

This incident also raises the problem of the absence of any civilian oversight mechanism and the lack of any independent review and complaint mechanisms for the CBSA.  I would be interested to know what plans you have to address this gap in civilian oversight of the CBSA.

Given the seriousness of any death in custody and the tragic circumstances of this death, I am urging you to take a personal and immediate interest in making sure that an independent and transparent inquiry into the death in custody of Lucia Vega Jimenez takes place.

Sincerely,

Randall Garrison, MP (Esquimalt - Juan de Fuca)

Official Opposition Critic for Public Safety