Ontario finally allows Red Cross investigation of immigration jails, but deaths and indefinite imprisonment continues

Toronto – End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN), Canada’s leading detention watch group, welcomes the decision to allow Red Cross access to Ontario’s provincial prisons for the first time since 2008. However, the lack of any real oversight of prison conditions of immigration detainees adds to the dire need to end maximum-security imprisonment of immigrants without trial or charges. A GlobalNews report today documented 11 deaths in immigration detention custody since 2000.

Since September 2013, over 100 migrants held in a maximum-security prison in Lindsay, ON have been on a protest strike against endless detentions, sham judicial review processes, and imprisonment in maximum-security jails. EIDN is coordinating the strike, and in June 2014 released an expose on immigration detention showing signs of political interference in detention release processes. In July 2014, the United Nations condemned Canadian immigration detention practices in response to an application EIDN filed.

“Endless, cruel and illegal imprisonment is part of Stephen Harper’s lock ‘em up agenda, but why are provincial governments, particularly Ontario where most detainees are jailed, co-operating with this injustice? Wynne and other Premiers need to stop upholding Harpers’ anti-immigrant platform,” says Tings Chak, an organizer with EIDN. Continue reading

Mvogo forced to fight for release despite UN ruling in his favour

This morning, Mr Michael Mvogo will be back in front of an administrative board demanding his release from indefinite imprisonment at a maximum security prison in Ontario, where he’s being held despite a United Nations Opinion calling for his release. In a decision rendered in June of this year, with implications for all immigration detainees, the UN also asked for repatriations for Mr Mvogo for 8 years of jail without trial or charge.

In an almost unheard of legal step, lawyers for Mr Mvogo will finally get the chance to cross examine a Canada Border Service Agency (CBSA) officer who was involved with Mr Mvogo’s detention for many years.

“Canada Immigration should follow International law and respect human rights. Its been three months since the United Nations said I should be freed, but I am still behind bars. Does Canada immigration listen to no one? Is there no one to stop their abuses?” said Mr Michael Mvogo in a statement released today. Continue reading

Migrant Justice Groups Call for Overhaul of Immigration Detention after Secret Red Cross Report Released

Toronto, September 25, 2014 — Migrant justice coalition the End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN) is calling for an end to maximum security imprisonment of immigrants without trial or charges after a secret Red Cross report on deplorable detention conditions became public. Since September 2013, over a 100 migrants in a maximum security prison in Lindsay, ON have been on a protest strike against their endless detentions, bogus judicial review processes and imprisonment in maximum security jails.

The Red Cross report found denial of family contact, increasing imprisonment of minors and children, violation of basic legal rights, worsening mental health in detention, and alternatives to detention as key areas of concern.

QUOTES

Syed Hussan, End Immigration Detention Network
“Detainees are on strike, the UN has issued a condemnation, and now the Red Cross has joined a growing chorus of criticism against the inhumane, jailing of immigrants without trial or charge. The Canadian immigration detention systems is unjust, unfair and cruel. It must end.

Canada should stop being a rogue state, end maximum security incarceration, release migrants after 90 days if they can’t be deported and overhaul the entire judicial review system.” Continue reading

The Campaign to End Immigration Detention – 1 year in

DSC_0510On September 17th 2013, 191 one hundred and ninety one immigration detainees held in the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, began a non-cooperation protest.

They went on hunger strike and at first demanded better prison conditions. Soon the strikers demands expanded to the entire immigration detention system that detains hem, requesting a review of the detention process and demanding their freedom.

Today is the 1 year anniversary of the ongoing strike. This is a brief history of the struggle to date: the strike, the ongoing resistance on the inside and the campaign that continues on the outside. If you haven’t yet, please take action to support their resistance. We are an all-volunteer organizing project, please financially support our work. 

140917_FB 1 yearOn Wednesday, September 18th, 2013 an organizer with No One Is Illegal-Toronto gets a call informing them that detainees in immigration hold, recently transferred from across Ontario to a maximum security prison in Lindsay, Ontario have gone on hunger strike and refused to enter their cells.

Running Down The Walls, an annual run to raise money for the Anarchist Black Cross is in communication with prisoners at this time. Organisers from Fuerza Puwersa in Guelph set up a TrappCall phone line, which allows detainees to collect call cellphones on the outside. They begin to get calls from people who have decided to take a stand against what has become their indefinite detention. Connections are quickly made with organisers from No One Is Illegal-Toronto and form what is to become the End Immigration Detention Network. In conjunction with the detainees, activists on the outside craft a set of demands focusing on prison conditions and release a petition alongside a solidarity statement signed by migrant justice organisations across the country. Continue reading

September 2014: United Against Detentions 

0616 migrant 05.JPGJoin these actions or TAKE ACTION from wherever you are.

OTTAWA – CREATIVE SHOES ACTION
Wednesday, 17 September, 12pm
CBSA Headquarters, 120 Metcalf Street

OTTAWA – COMMUNITY FEAST
Wednesday, 17 September, 6pm
Jack Purcell Community Centre, Room 201

TORONTO – THESE WALLS WILL FALL / PROTEST-CONCERT
Wednesday, 17 September, 8pm
Meet at Cloud Gardens, Richmond W & Temperance Street.

GUELPH – CREATIVE ACTION
Saturday, 20 September, 9am
Guelph Farmers Market, 4 Gordon Street

MONTREAL – RALLY: NO BORDERS, NO PRISONS
Saturday, 20 September, 12pm
Laval Immigration Detention Centre, 200 Montée St-François and then proceeding to the Federal Training Centre across the street. Continue reading

Actions across Canada mark 1-year anniversary of ongoing protest-strike by immigration detainees

Canada – Protests, surprise actions, concerts, and community feasts are being organized across the country to mark the 1-year anniversary of the ongoing protest-strike by immigration detainees in a maximum security prison in Lindsay, ON. These immigrants are been jailed indefinitely without trial or chargein one case for ten years. Immigrants have gone on hunger strikeboycotted their legal proceedings, refused to be locked-down and turned away prison services to demand a 90-day limit on detentions pending deportations, an end to maximum-security imprisonment of immigration detainees and an overhaul of the judicial review process.

Over the last year, the End Immigration Detention Network has released a report with signs of political meddling in legal proceedings, and the United Nations has issued an opinion against Canadian immigration detention, the first such opinion in Canadian history. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has been caught in multiple scandals over the last year, including attempting to hide the suicide of Lucia Jimenez in their custody, using international fixers to deport migrants not to their countries of origin and using traffic stops as a guise to racially profile and detain people. Continue reading

THESE WALLS WILL FALL! Protest-Concert for #MigrantStrike

Sep17ProtestConcert

Massive outdoor free protest concert to celebrate the courageous 1-year long resistance of immigration detainees on strike in Ontario.

THESE WALLS WILL FALL
w/ Indigenous & PoC Artists from Across Turtle Island

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8PM – 11PM — WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2014
CLOUD GARDENS (short walk to concert site)
COME TO PROTEST! COME TO DANCE!

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Featuring:

SHINING SOUL
Arizona’s finest Red-Brown power hip-hop duo

¡ALAS!
Undocumented & Decolonial Mujer Lucha Rap

ROSINA KAZI
Singer, song-writers, one-half of Toronto’s own LAL

TEST THEIR LOGIK
Anarcho-Rap Rhythm Renegades

LIDO PIMIENTA
Colombian darling, Soundsister, improv virtuoso

More to be announced.

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On September 17, 2013, 191 migrants jailed in a Lindsay maximum-security prison went on hunger strike against their endless detention without trial or charge. Over the last year, despite being locked in cages, their resistance has continued. They have boycotted their detention reviews, refused to go on lock down, and refused unjust prison orders. As a result, strike leaders have been deported, faced coercion and fines while some have been released. They continue.

On the outside, we have mobilized to support. We have beaten down the doors of immigration enforcement headquarters, we have shown corruption in the detention review process, and we have even won a case at the United Nations.

On September 17th, we gather to celebrate and to remember. We will come together as families and friends of those jailed without an end in sight. We will express our outrage at the recent racist anti-immigrant raids in Keele-Finch. We will strengthen our struggle to overthrow prisons and border controls that separate, detain and deport us. We will pledge our commitment to fighting alongside Indigenous nations asserting sovereignty. We will insist these walls must fall. AND WE WILL DANCE.

No One Is Illegal! Freedom to Move, Return, Stay!

Actions taking place in many other cities, find one near you.

http://www.nooneisillegal.org
http://www.endimmigrationdetention.com

Update: Immigration Detainees take part in prison walk-out

We can now confirm that last Monday immigration detainees as well as general population inmates at the Central East Correctional Center, in Lindsay ON took direct action and collectively refused to go back into their cells when they were instructed to by prison guards. Inmates were protesting the fact that guard shortages over the summer have led to continuous lockdowns; sometimes spanning for days on end. Inmates argue that these conditions are inhumane and that guard shortages should not affect their quality of life while in jail. The protest lasted several hours and was ended after a prison negotiator was brought in to get inmates to go back into  their cells. However, the majority of the inmates were left frustrated and unsatisfied as the prison negotiator did not speak to individuals demanding an end to lockdowns and chose to speak to a small number of inmates who changed the focus and were asking for items to be brought into the jail. Following the protest, some ranges were once again put on lockdown for two days. Inmates including immigration detainees are talking of hosting another walk-out if conditions do not change in the near future.

UN has spoken. Its time to End Immigration Detention.

UN decision meme FINALOverstaying past your immigration permit should not be grounds for incarceration. Jailing someone simply for wishing to live and work in a country not of their birth is not justice. Indefinite detention with no hope of release on top of that is cruel, inhumane and appalling. Many people agree: Over a 100 detainees have been on strike for nearly a year, thousands of people have signed our petition, dozens of organizations have endorsed our demands, and our report on detention reviews has exposed signs of government interference in immigration detention decision making.

Now, the UN has spoken out in support. The tide on immigration detention is turning.

Let’s turn up the volume. Can you contact your MP about this urgent issue? Fill out the form below and we will be in touch.

Today, we are getting unprecedented media coverage from coast to coast to coast. We need you to amplify our voices even more. Over the next few days – we need you to share, tweet, email, and forward out this blog post, news stories linked below and images and stories from our facebook page and our twitter feed. We can do this!

(oh and don’t forget about Cross-Canada Day of Action Against Detentions on September 17th)

KEY ELEMENTS OF THE UN DECISION

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.

MAINSTREAM MEDIA COVERAGE – PLEASE SHARE
will be updated all day, please check back for more

Toronto Star: UN chastises Canada over immigration detention, including un-deportable man jailed 8 years

CBC Metro Morning: Immigration Detention

Metro News Canada: UN chastises Canada

Toronto Star: Ottawa spurns UN criticism of years-long detention of migrants

Canadian Press: UN demands release of man detained over immigration violations: lawyer 

National Post: UN committee tells Canada to free ‘Man With No Name’ — the immigrant they don’t know where to deport

Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/2014/07/24/un-demands-release-of-man_n_5618227.html

Radio Canada Internationale: Grupo de la ONU exige la liberación de un hombre detenido en Canadá

Live Punjab: http://www.livepunjab.com/content/un-demands-release-%E2%80%9Cman-no-name%E2%80%9D-detained-over-immigration-violations-112372.html

 

 

United Nations body issues damning opinion against Canadian immigration detention

Download backgrounder with key sections of the UN opinion here.

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