Now, the UN has spoken out in support. The tide on immigration detention is turning.
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This is the first time United Nations High Commissioner on Human Rights’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has rendered a decision involving Canada since 1994 which is as far back as information is available for.
The UN has called for Immigration Detention to be the policy of last resort but in Canada over 85,000 people have been detained under the current Federal government. Immigration detention is unjust, immoral, jail without trial or charge. Now the UN is saying its also against international legal norms. Its time to end immigration detention.
The UN has reiterated that detention must be for the shortest time period possible — Canada on the other hand is one of the only Western countries that does not have a time limit on immigration detention resulting in people being detained for up to 10 years. Immigrant detainees and their allies are calling for a 90 day limit on immigration detention.
The UN has issued this Opinion because it found that immigrants in Canada do not have access to real judicial review processes. This confirms what government documents have revealed about political interference in detention reviews, and what immigrants and their allies know — the current judicial oversight of the program is a farce. You have to seek permission to go to Federal Court, which usually gets denied. Even if you get permissions, case-law or previous decisions mean that detention can’t be challenged. The End Immigration Detention Network is calling for an overhaul of the Detention and Judicial Review processes.
The UN insists immigration enforcement’s inability to establish someone’s identity, or to obtain travel documents from countries of origin are not grounds to detain people. The UN goes a step further – even if those difficulties arise from non-cooperation of the detainee — there are still not enough grounds to keep someone in jail. These are the two of the most common reasons why immigrants are held in detention. These people must be released. No one should be held in maximum security prisons.
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Toronto – The Canadian immigration detention system is under fire again, this time by the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.
‘…[D]etention shall be the last resort and permissible only for the shortest period of time and that alternatives to detention should be sought wherever possible’ reiterates the Opinion which criticizes Canadian laws and policies that have resulted in Mr Michael Mvogo’s detention on immigration grounds for nearly eight years. Over 85,000 people have been detained in immigration hold under the current government making it the norm, rather than the policy of last resort.
This is the first opinion issued by the Working Group in a case involving Canada since 1994 which is when records are available for. The opinion also calls for Mr Michael Mvogo’s release and insists that he be compensated.
Members of the End Immigration Detention Network who will deliver the Opinion to immigration enforcement offices this morning hailed the UN opinion as further evidence that the Canadian immigration detention system is in need of an overhaul. They point to the fact that Mr Mvogo’s case was considered under Category IV of the Working Group’s mandate which deals with immigration detention in the absence of judicial review or remedy.
“The UN is basically saying that the detention review and judicial review processes that Canada uses to justify all immigration detention do not pass muster,” says Syed Hussan, a campaigner with No One Is Illegal – Toronto and the End Immigration Detention Network. Continue reading →
Toronto — The United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention has issued a damning opinion regarding Canadian immigration detention in the case of Mr Michael Mvogo. This is the first opinion the UN body has rendered in a case involving Canada since 1994 which is as far back as records are available for. The Opinion has great bearing on all immigration detentions cases in Canada. It responds to many of the Government’s arguments that justify immigration detention (of any length), and criticizes the judicial processes that uphold immigration detention. Media are invited to attend.
On September 17, people locked up in immigration hold at Central East Correction Centre, a max security prison in Lindsay, Ontario, will mark the 1 year anniversary of their ongoing strike against immigration detention. Around September 17th, we will unite to demand an end to unjust immigration controls, and freedom of movement for all our communities.
Join us! Create people-powered mobilizations with community meetings, public protests and direct actions where ever you are.
Increased immigration detentions and deportations are the direct result of laws that exclude migrant workers, refugees, parents and grandparents, and low-income people from full status. This September, we will challenge Harper’s anti-immigrant agenda. At the same time, we will bring together diverse movements for social and ecological justice to build community visions of just migration.
This isn’t just about Canadian immigration policies. In a world of climate catastrophes, war, economic inequity and increased social oppression, our friends and families are forced to leave their homes here, and around the globe. Indigenous people continue to have their homes and territories made uninhabitable by corporate profiteers acting with government sanction. This September, we will link our struggles against all the forces of displacement.
To do this, we need to act together. September 17th. Join us in Toronto. Or organize an action in your community.
Learn the truth about immigration detention in Canada: www.truthaboutdetention.com/
Freedom to move, return, stay: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/MoveReturnStay
Email firstname.lastname@example.org so that we can coordinate actions in your community.
On June 2nd, 2014, over 100 immigrants in three prisons began a coordinated boycott of their detention review processes. Insisting the process is biased, unfair and stacked against them, they collectively rejected their only chance of release. The boycott was coordinated between detainees caged in three separate maximum security prisons across Ontario – the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene and Toronto’s Metro West Detention Centre.
The boycott has now ended and it is time to reflect on what has been an historic month in the struggle to end immigration detention in Canada. To hear detainees voices and reasons for participating in the boycott watch this video.
Coinciding with the boycott, on June 9th; the End Immigration Detention Network published, Indefinite, ‘Arbitrary and Unfair:The Truth about Immigration Detention’, a groundbreaking report which raises red flags about troubling patterns in the detention review process which keeps immigrants detained and suggests that political inference may be keeping people behind bars. The startling exposé brought national attention to immigration detention in Canada and was featured on CBC Metro Morning.
We then ramped up the pressure as we brought the campaign to Ottawa, where we used 10-foot-tall scales of injustice to lock down Border Control Headquarters. As detainees continue to take action on the inside it is important that we continue to put those who make decisions keeping them behind bars under pressure where and when we can.
As part of the International Conference on Penal Abolition, we organised a Fathers Day March to End Immigration Detention on June 15th, from the University of Ottawa to Canada Border Services Agency headquarters in downtown Ottawa. As we played a live recording from a detainee in Lindsay supporters chalked the names of those detained on the street in front of the CBSA offices.
The end of the boycott concludes an important period in the struggle as we look ahead to September and the anniversary of the beginning of the strike. As we have seen since the historic strike began, detainees will not shirk from action. As a result of their boycott, there was a dramatic increase in lockdowns and detainees were put under enormous pressure to cease their actions.
A call-out for a day of action on September 17th is coming soon and we call on all supporters and allies to join us in ending this injustice and bring immigration detention to an end.
Immigration detention has burst onto the national scene in the last two weeks.
First, immigrants jailed in three prisons began a coordinated boycott of their detention review processes. Detention reviews are a bail-like system in the immigration detention regime that are meant to release migrants from jail. But the boycotting migrants insist the system is stacked against them.
On June 9, a groundbreaking expose on immigration detention further justified the boycott. Using government data obtained through Access to Information and Privacy Act requests, the End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN) has revealed signs of political interference in the detention review process.
This is no small matter. Detention reviews are part of a legal process that upholds the integrity of the immigration detention system. Each person jailed must be dealt with fairly and on the basis of their individual case. If there is in fact political interference in this process, it throws the entire immigration detention system into doubt. Continue reading →
Ottawa-born Deepan Budlakoti, 24, will appear in Supreme Court Monday, June 16, 2014 trying to get his Canadian citizenship back. The process has begun to deport the young man — convicted of selling a rifle to an undercover police officer when he was 19 — to India because that’s where his parents are from, but haven’t lived since 1984.
Like immigrants, he is fighting for his life to stay here.
Deepan Budlakoti, 24, appears Monday morning in Supreme Court and was hoping the group who gathered to march from the University of Ottawa to CBSA headquarters Sunday, would be there to support him.
Budlakoti is facing deportation to India after he was busted when he was 19 for trying to sell a rifle to an undercover police officer.
The trouble is, Budlakoti wasn’t born there — he was born here. His parents are from India but haven’t been back in that country since 1984.
A large segment of the more 100 protesters seemed to agree to join him outside the Wellington St. courthouse at 8:30 a.m. — an hour ahead of his court appearance.
Sunday they were marching to bring attention to their own demands to end immigration detention — following a three-day conference and week of activities.
The group claims FOI requests appear to show political interference in the immigration detention review processes.
They say detention release rates in Ontario have steadily dropped since 2008 when they were 21%, to 11.5% in 2012 and 9.3% in 2013.
Protesters say nearly 80,000 immigrants have been detained under the current federal government. More than a third are held in one of 142 mostly maximum-security prisons across Canada where there is no limit on how long they can be held.
At least 203 children were detained in 2013.
The marchers Sunday were drawing a link between Father’s Day and the detentions, as they claim the practice is detrimental to families. Continue reading →
Protesters marched to Canada Border Services headquarters on Father’s Day to fight Canada’s jailing of migrants, many of whom face deportation.
About 90 people came out to the University of Ottawa, where the 20-minute march began, wielding signs that said “End Immigration Detention” and “Support Migrant Strike” in reference to migrants in the Lindsay, Ont., maximum security prison who have been boycotting their detention hearings since early June.
Tings Chak, who helped organize the End Immigration Detention event, said a recent study by the organization shows a surprising dip in the number of people released from immigration jail. In 2008, 21 per cent of detainees were released, but in 2013 that number shrank to 9.3 per cent.
There are a number of reasons migrants who have lost their status, are without status or have precarious status get “stuck in this limbo,” Chak said.
“It could be that they had refugee status so they can’t be deported back to a country they will face persecution or that the country of origin doesn’t recognize them and some countries … won’t take people forcibly deported. And also there are moratoriums on places where we can’t deport them to; maybe there’s economic or civil unrest.”
Chak, who is a Toronto member of No One Is Illegal, said Canada is one of the only western nations that doesn’t have a maximum detention for people awaiting deportation. The European Union has a six-month limit and in the United States it’s three months, she said.
“We don’t have an end.”
Chak said it’s also symptomatic of Canada’s changing immigration system for refugees, sponsorship requirements and temporary foreign workers.
“These scales were to remind Harper and Blaney that justice is something we all believe in and fight for, its not something that the Tories can just play fast and loose with. Blaney uses a broken justice system to lock up migrants, so today the Scales of Injustice locked out his offices,” says Tings Chak. Continue reading →