PACK THE COURTS – END INDEFINITE IMMIGRATION DETENTION

Wednesday May 6th
10:30am
Ontario Court of Appeals (130 Queen st W, Toronto) 647-740-6446

Pack the courthouse on the morning of Wednesday May 6th at 10:30am at the Ontario Court of Appeals (130 Queen st W) for an important legal fight to end part of the injustice of immigration detention.

A group of detainees indefinitely imprisoned in Ontario filed an application in the Ontario Courts called a habeas corpus last December, challenging Canada to prove that their long term detention is justified. Michael Mvogo, one of the applicants has been jailed for nearly 10 years. Glory Anawa, another one of the applicants, has been imprisoned for nearly two years. Her son, Alpha, was born in an immigration jail and has spent his entire life in prison. The Ontario Superior court recently declined to hear the application. On May 6th, lawyers for the detainees are appealing the decision insisting that the Ontario courts must assert jurisdiction.

While we urge our supporters to pack the courts, we know that justice is rarely granted in them. Our struggles will not be legitimized by the same system that continues to actively criminalize and displace indigenous, racialized, dis/abled, queer, trans and poor people. However, winning this appeal could eventually mean freedom for detainees, and an end to indefinite immigration detention.

As you know, hundreds of migrants jailed indefinitely without trial or charge, have been waging a courageous struggle against immigration detentions and deportation in a max-security prison in Lindsay, Ontario since September 2013. These migrants, most of whom are Black men, have gone on hunger strike, boycotted their detention reviews, refused to enter their cells and organized despite the violence and alienation of prisons.

To support their struggle, the End Immigration Detention Network has organized rallies and petitions, gone to the United Nations, uncovered deep discrepancies in the detention review process and in December of last year launched a legal court challenge in Ontario’s provincial courts. In the months to come, we will also be turning our attention to the Ontario government that gets paid millions of dollars each year to support Harper’s anti-immigrant agenda, and imprison migrants without trial or charge.

So come out, show your support on Wednesday May 6th as we continue to fight for an end to immigration detention!

Email us at migrantstrike@gmail.com to let us know your coming and we’ll be in touch closer to the date to confirm what time we’ll meet at.

Detainee Strike Organizer Amin Mjasiri Deported

Mjasiri

“Are the actions undertaken by immigration canada unjust? I would go so far as to say their actions are inhuman, despicable and grossly hypocritical” Amin Mjasiri, on the phone from Kenya

On March 27, 2015, Amin Mjasiri, a migrant justice activist, father, and friend was forced to board a plane en route to Nairobi, Kenya after being jailed in immigration detention for 45 months. Amin Mjasiri is part of a movement of migrant detainees who began striking on September 17th, 2013 to protest against arbitrary detentions, bogus judicial review processes and imprisonment in maximum security jails.

Since September 2013, Amin has been a friend, a comrade and a key organizer inside Lindsay’s maximum security prison. Many of us on the outside have come to rely on him for strategies, ideas, and inspiration. His warmth and friendliness a daily reminder of survival and resiliency in the face of cruel border controls and prison sentences. We are hurt, and disappointed that Amin is not just on the other side of a glass window but thousands of miles away. At the same time, this targeting and deportation of Amin strengthens our resolve to continue until all these border walls fall.

We first came into contact with Amin in September 2013. In October, on the 26th day of his hunger strike, Mjasiri released this statement,

“The reason for my hunger-strike is indefinite detention, the uncertainty of the outcome of whether it is going to be deportation or release…Immigration is punishing me right now. Because to them they say this is not a punishment, then what am I doing in a maximum security for 28 months. 28 months of my life, you could not give that back to me. Even if you were going to deport me right now. You could not give that back to me.”

Amin’s imprisonment continued for a year and half after this statement. A total of 45 months of his life, that cannot be given back, were spent in detention while Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) forced the Government of Kenya to issue him travel documents.

Amin has been an outspoken organizer from the beginning of the End Immigration Detention Campaign and was the longest of the hunger strikers in 2013; striking in isolation for over a month. Lawyers for CBSA, in part, have used this strike and his activism as a reason not to release Amin over the last 18 months. In fact, the CBSA tried to deport him to a second country, which he has no relations to, rather than release him to his friends and family in Canada.

On Monday, March 23, 2015 Amin was given travel documents for a flight scheduled four days later. He was forced to leave behind his loved ones and return to Kenya, a country he has not lived in or even visited for over two decades, and which has not regarded him as a citizen.

Although no longer in Canada, he plans to continue to organize against immigration detention and deportation. So will we.

Read the full transcript from interviews with Amin during his hunger strike in 2013.

We visited Naqvi, will you call him? (with pictures)

On November 18th 2014, we sent a letter to Ontario Minister responsible for prisons Yasir Naqvi demanding that he cut all ties with CBSA and stop collaborating in the indefinite, cruel and unjust detention of migrants in Ontario’s maximum security prisons. The Minister, who is also the Ontario Liberal House Leader, has yet to reply and Ontario continues to profit from Harper’s anti-immigrant laws. Immigration detentions must end.

So on March 16, 2015 representatives from the End Immigration Detention Network, No One Is Illegal Ottawa and Parent-Child Coalition for Justice visited Minister Naqvi and demanded that he act now.

Add your voice to ours. Take action with us!

* SIGN THIS PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/harper-end-indefinite-immigration-detention
* WRITE/CALL/TWEET AT YASIR NAQVI: Demand that the he end the imprisonment of migrants in Ontario prisons without trial or charge.

Tweet: https://twitter.com/yasir_naqvi
Call: 416-325-0408, 416-325-7754, or 613-722-6414
Write: ynaqvi.mpp.co@liberal.ola.org

SOME FACTS:

  • Immigration detention is imprisonment without trial or charges.
  • Of the 9,932 detentions that took place in 2013, 2,434 detentions took place in Ontario’s maximum security prisons. At any given time, between 520 and 700 people are in immigration detention in Canada. About 40 per cent of them are in Ontario provincial jails.
  • In fiscal 2013-2014, the Feds paid Ontario more than $21 million for jail space for immigration detainees.
  • The release rate at the monthly detention review hearing where continued imprisonment of immigrants facing deportations in Central Region (Ontario, minus Ottawa and Kingston) is 9%. Its 25.5% in the rest of the country.
  • Detainees in Ontario jails spend an average of 40 days in custody – twice the 20-day average for immigration detainees in general. Some, of course, are in jail for 8-10 years. Detainees in Lindsay stay an average of 82 days there (allowing for early release, that’s equivalent to a four-month jail sentence for someone in the criminal justice system).

IMMIGRATION DETENTION
** Is not a provincial matter
** Is imprisonment without an end in sight
** Lacks due process
** Separates families
** Kills

Our letter to Naqvi.

We Want Them Back! We Want Them Free! Don’t Separate Our Families

Nearly a 150 of us descended on to the Central East Correctional Centre on Monday, Feb 16th. With the weather dropping below -30 celsius, plus windchill, we gathered with our breaths and hearts warm, calling for an end to immigration detentions and deportations.

Led by the high-school organizers from our Youth Committee, we marched right around the prison to where the immigration detainees are imprisoned. Seeing us, hundreds of prisoners banged on their glass windows, raised fists, and waved prison-made flags at us.

Melika Mojarrab, 15, whose father Masoud Hajivand is imprisoned at Lindsay spoke of her family’s separation. Breia, 16, whose brother is in detention thanked those gathered, and Martin who was released after 36 months in immigration detention insisted that we cannot stop until the injustice of immigration detention is over.

Pictures by Shaghayegh Tajvidi

 

High-school youth to rally outside Ontario prison on Family Day

“If we get to be with our families, so should they. Everyone should be able to be with the people they love”

Peterborough, Toronto, Guelph — High school aged youth from Peterborough and Toronto are changing the way they celebrate Family Day (February 16th) this year, rallying outside a maximum security prison in Lindsay, Ontario. The group, members of Youth 4 Global Change & End Immigration Detention Network Youth Committee hope to raise awareness of family separation and endless jailing of immigrants including children without charges or trial. Siblings, parents, friends and grandparents of the youth group, as well as family members of many of the men imprisoned by immigration enforcement will be raising signs and making music outside the prison walls. Continue reading

REUNITE: Families for Families in Detention

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Immigrant detainees are being held indefinitely and without charge or trial in Lindsay’s maximum security jail. Unlike many of us, this Family Day, they will not be reuniting with their families. In fact, they are unable to see their families on most other days because Lindsay is inaccessible by public transport.

On February 16th, bring your family, young and old – sisters, fathers, sons, grandmothers and friends – and stand in solidarity with hundreds of families that are impacted by indefinite migrant detention, and the 100,000 more separated by detention over the past 8 years.

Where: The Central East Correctional Facility in Lindsay Ontario
When: 4:00pm (buses leaving from Toronto, Peterborough, Guelph – scroll below to register and for details)

Everyone should be able to be with the people they love every day! Continue reading

Alpha has spent his entire life in jail. He is 16 months old. Watch till 2:08 to find out why.

It’s Glory Anawa’s 29th birthday today. Since February 2013, she has been imprisoned in immigration jails in Ontario without charge or trial. Canada cannot deport her but will not release her.

Her son, Alpha Ochigbo was born in the Toronto Immigration Holding Centre on August 25th, 2013. Alpha has not seen a single day of freedom.

Alpha is Glory’s second child that she is raising inside an immigration jail. Her daughter Tracy was born in Yarl’s Wood Immigration Removal Centre in the United Kingdom.

Horrific as Glory’s story is, it is not an exception. Racialized and poor migrants are locked up in jails around the globe for the desire to move. Without adequate supports, women, children and trans people face great harm.

We know this also because December is the one-year anniversary of Lucia Jimenez Vega’s death in immigration enforcement custody in Vancouver.

Today, Glory marks her birthday in prison. Migrant justice activists across these lands mourn Lucia’s death. Today, we honour the lives and struggles of the millions that are forced out of their homes, the thousands that die crossing borders. Today, with you, we reaffirm our commitment to struggle until all these walls fall, until we all are free, until no one is illegal.

Freedom to Move!
Freedom to Return!
Freedom to Stay!

http://www.truthaboutdetention.com
http://www.endimmigrationdetention.com

For media inquiries, please email migrantstrike@gmail.com

Pack The Courts: Critical Legal Challenge to Immigration Detention

Scales of JusticeDear friends,

We need you to pack the courthouse for 1 morning for an important legal fight to end part of the injustices of immigration detention.

As you know, nearly 200 migrants jailed indefinitely without trial or charge, have been waging a courageous struggle against immigration detentions and deportations in a max-security prison in Lindsay, Ontario since September 2013. Those migrants have gone on hunger strike, boycotted their detention reviews, refused to enter their cells and organized despite the violence and alienation of prisons.

To support their struggle, the End Immigration Detention Network, has organized rallies and petitions, gone to the United Nations, uncovered deep discrepancies in the detention review process, and worked to shed light on the injustice of detentions and deportations. The spotlight on the abuses inherent in the system has shone even brighter as a result of Lucia Vega Jimenez’s death in immigration custody in Vancouver, in December 2013.

Our struggle is entering a critical new phase. In this coming week, we need you to pack a downtown Toronto courthouse, for an innovative court challenge we are launching. We cannot reveal the details of this step yet, but we urge you to fill out this form, if you are available between 9am and noon, on December 11, 12, 15 or 16. We will only need all of you to be there for one of these mornings.

We will email you details on Wednesday, December 10th, 2014. Your presence in the courthouse will be critical in showing broad community opposition to immigration detention.

Please fill out this form, and share this call out with trusted friends and family members.

With love and solidarity,
End Immigration Detention Network

Surprise Noise Demonstration at Lindsay Max-Security Prison

On Saturday, November 29th, 30 of us gathered from Peterborough, Guelph and Toronto at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario. Ranging in ages from 22 months to 75 years, we made our way down on a dirt road behind the prison to Pod 3 where nearly 200 immigrants are jailed without charge or trial, many indefinitely. Revolutionary music blasted from our soumd system, we beat on drums, clanged pots and set off fireworks appropriately titled ‘prison break’. By the time a police line formed to stop us moving further, prisoners in three pods were in their cell windows, screaming, jumping flicking lights, and banging on the windows. We interspersed our music with chants, ‘end detentions, end end detentions’, and ‘no prisons, no borders’. When we stood quietly, we could hear night reverberating with the thump of fists on plexiglass windows. With the police only one side of us, some of our comrades lit off more fireworks. Then in what can only be described as ‘police intelligence’, two officers tried to stomp out the fireworks sending them flying in all directions. We laughed, we chanted and we continued. The youngest amongst us – toddlers – insisted on making their own way back, forcing the police to stop trying to herd us out. Slowly, we marched back out on the street, past Pod 1 and 2 where those in max-security remand are held, still making music, still singing, still chanting, still insisting: Until All Walls Fall, We Will Continue.

If you haven’t yet, please take action to end immigration detention, click here.

To view the gallery, click the first image and scroll. 

Our letter to Provincial Corrections Minister, Yasir Naqvi

Original letter as mailed: Request for Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to cease collaboration with CBSA

The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Government of Ontario must cease collaboration with Canada Border Services Agency and refuse to hold people in provincial jails, including indefinite maximum security prisons. This is because:

1. Immigration enforcement is not a provincial matter:
In the early part of the twentieth century, jurisdiction regarding immigration was divided between the federal government and the provinces/territories. Under this division, the Federal government is responsible for immigration enforcement. Provinces/territories have created immigration programs, but these are to bring people into these areas, and have nothing to do with enforcement.

2. Immigration detention is imprisonment without an end in sight:
Canada is one of the only Western countries without a limit on immigration detention pending deportation. According to the latest reported data, there are currently at least 146 migrants who have been in jail for over 6 months nationwide.

3. Immigration detention lacks due process:
The detention review process which justifies continued immigration detention places the onus to be released on the detainee. Detention Reviews have been shown to be rife with disturbing discrepancies between different immigration detention board members’ decisions and marked variance in release rates between provinces. Detainees have no automatic right of appeal to the federal court for decisions made at the Detention Reviews. Rather, detainees apply for leave for judicial review, which is rarely granted.

Detainees have limited access to legal aid and bail program. For example, the only free clinic they can access is Know Your Rights trainings by the Osgoode Hall legal clinic and very rarely representation by the Refugee Law Office. In addition, both legal aid and the Toronto Bail Program do not attend at many of the provincial jails on a regular basis.

4. Deaths in immigration detention:
The Canada Border Services Agency has failed to learn from its mistakes causing multiple deaths in immigration detention. As a result, at least 11 people have died in immigration detention custody since 2000. See Global News report: ‘Canada’s Unwanted: Non-citizens paid to leave, jailed without charge, die in secret‘.

5. Ontario prison staff lack training:
Immigration detention is administrative hold pending release or deportation. No charges have been placed against detainees, and no trial is forthcoming. This is starkly different from the stated purpose of Ontario provincial facilities which is to rehabilitate prisoners, or to hold prisoners until trial. As such, staff are unequipped to deal with immigration detention.

6. Federal anti-immigrant changes are responsible for making people undocumented:
Under the current federal government, the number of refugee claims has decreased by 50 per cent and the number of accepted refugees has dropped by 25 per cent. The number of family-class immigrants dropped by 10,000 in the first four years the Conservative Party of Canada formed government. The Conservative government has instituted a quota of 5,000 applications (note, not acceptances) on the sponsorship of parents and grandparents. The Conservatives have also enhanced their power to revoke permanent residency and citizenship. These factors are cumulatively responsible for growing numbers of people forced to live without immigration status and thus face detentions and deportations.

7. Detainees in Provincial Jails Cannot Access Cultural or Spiritual Services:
They have even less access than the other detainees. And some of the immigration detainees have been in provincial facilities for 8 to 10 years.

8. Ontario has already begun this process:
On September 25th, 2014, Ontario Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca formally cut his ministry’s ties with the Canada Border Services Agency. The suspension of operational relations with the federal agency followed MTO collaboration in the racial profiling of workers during CBSA raids. This is an example that now the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services must follow.

Your recent comments in the media about shifting immigration detainees in Ontario to a ‘GTA-area’ prison is cause for great concern. We understand that you’re intending to move immigration detainees to a range in Maplehurst Correctional Complex which was shut down due to mold. We are particularly concerned because conditions in Ontario detention facilities remain unknown following the denial of Red Cross entry into prisons in the province. We welcome your signing of an agreement with the Red Cross to finally grant them access for the first time since 2006, however a lack of a timeline for when the probe’s findings will become public is deeply concerning. The Red Cross must immediately be given access to all prisons, and their findings should be made public as soon as

Though Ontario has not released the specific information, according to our best estimates based on CBSA documents we have acquired, in 2013, Ontario carried out approximately 2,436 detentions for 75,000 days. In the same year, CBSA paid Ontario $21 million dollars for these detentions. This is a massive federal tax burden on individual families across the country which Ontario is profiting from.

Immigration enforcement is not a provincial issue so why are you cooperating with policies that deny people status and supporting Harper’s agenda? The provincial government has no obligation to hold immigration detainees for the federal government. Your ministry and Ontario should take a stand and refuse to hold people in indefinite maximum security in provincial prisons.

Member organizations of the End Immigration Detention Network been organizing around this issue for over a decade and have received the backing of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions, who have called for an end to indefinite detention in Canada. We know that prisons should never be used to enforce immigration laws. As you consider your course of action, we want to remind you that this system does not need federal government tweaking in the form of GPS units or more minimum security jails. It needs a total transformation that prioritizes community support and immigration status regularization. Ontario should be releasing immigration detainees from prisons such as the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay and not transferring them to Maplehurst.