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)


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.

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

ADVISORY: United Nations body issues damning opinion against Canadian immigration detention

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.

Continue reading

United Against Detentions – Call to Action

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 migrantstrike@gmail.com so that we can coordinate actions in your community. 

Immigration detainees boycott end after momentous month of action

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.

The Scandal of Immigration Detention

Briarpatch Magazine / BY SYED HUSSAN • JUN 17, 2014

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 SUN: Free jailed immigrants, group tells feds

Free jailed immigrants, group tells feds

by Doug Hempstead

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

OTTAWA CITIZEN: They march in Ottawa to push for end to immigration detention

Syed Hussan, a Toronto member of No One Is Illegal, spoke at Sunday's end migrant detention rally  and led the chants as the group marched to Canada Border Services Agency HQ in downtown Ottawa.
Syed Hussan, a Toronto member of No One Is Illegal, spoke at Sunday’s end migrant detention rally and led the chants as the group marched to Canada Border Services Agency HQ in downtown Ottawa. 

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.”

Protesters gathered Sunday afternoon to protest the detention of migrants in Canada and marched on Canada Border Services Agency HQ in downtown Ottawa.
Protesters gathered Sunday afternoon to protest the detention of migrants in Canada and marched on Canada Border Services Agency HQ in downtown Ottawa. 

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.

“It’s becoming a system of permanent temporariness.” Continue reading

1310 News: Immigration detention protesters block entrance to downtown building

by Alex Black

OTTAWA – Protesters are standing off against police in downtown Ottawa, in front of the Public Safety Canada building near at Laurier Avenue and Bank Street.

As of 8 a.m., 20 protesters had blocked the front entrance of the office with a ten foot golden scale with a sign saying, “no justice in immigration detention.”

The group claims nearly 80,000 migrants have been jailed without trial and charges by the Harper government.

Protesters at the scene told 1310News they’re blocking access to the building because they want an explanation from the Prime Minister Stephen Harper.

Link: http://www.1310news.com/2014/06/13/immigration-detention-protesters-block-entrance-to-downtown-building/

Activists unlock 10 foot Scales of Injustice from Ministry of Public Safety Offices. Mass protest on Sunday.

good oneMedia Advisory
June 13, 2014, 9:15am

Media Liaison (English): Syed Hussan, 416 453 3632, Tings Chak (416 276 2174
Porte parole (Francais): Ciaran Breen (647 705 3294)
For high-definition photos and video, email migrantstrike@gmail.com
See updates at http://www.twitter.com/NoOneIsIllegal and http://www.fb.com/EndImmigrationDetention

Activists unlock 10 foot Scales of Injustice from Ministry of Public Safety Offices. Mass protest on Sunday.

Protesters will be marching to CBSA HQ on Sunday, June 15th: http://endimmigrationdetention.com/2014/06/12/answers-demanded-on-political-meddling-in-immigration-detention/

Ottawa – After 90 minutes to represent the 90 day limit on detentions pending deportation that jailed migrants’ supporters’ have been demanding, a a ten feet tall, golden, scale of injustice with a sign saying “No Justice in Immigration Detention” has been taken down from the Ministry of Public Safety offices (269 Laurier Avenue West). The protest today took place to demand answers from Prime Minister Harper and Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney after a recent report revealed political interference in federal immigration detention decision making. The action and report occur as over 100 immigrants jailed in three different maximum security prisons are boycotting their detention review hearings, insisting they are stacked against them insisting they are stacked against them. Migrants in a maximum security prison in Lindsay, ON have been protesting their unfair imprisonment since September 2013.

“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


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