Media Release: Federal court questions border enforcement on constitutionality of indefinite detention

 

MAY 15, 2017

Media Contact: Nisha Toomey, 647-270-3025

Federal court questions border enforcement on constitutionality of indefinite detention

Toronto, May 15, 2017 — The Federal Court of Canada is set to hear a historic case today, challenging the constitutionality of Canada’s immigration law and the federal government’s much-criticized practice of indefinite detention. This is the first time that Canada Border Services Agency, which is not subject to an oversight body, will be called on to justify its practice of long-term imprisonment.

The End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN), a party in the case, will be presenting arguments that indefinite immigration detention is in violation of international law and sections 7, 9, and 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. EIDN’s case is based on evidence from two of its members who have organised with hundreds of detainees; three legal experts; and five former detainees and family members.

“It really comes down to one question for the federal government. How long can someone be held before it becomes indefinite?” said EIDN member Nisha Toomey, surrounded by families of detainees and dozens of supporters outside the court Monday. “People have been held for years on end, some have died in detention. Trudeau must address the lack of policies limiting detention in Canada. We need a 90-day-limit.”

Canada is one of the few western countries without a time limit on detentions.  Detainees, advocates, and the United Nations have criticized the lack of fair judicial oversight in the federal system. EIDN is asking the court to instruct the federal government to create legislative reform to end indefinite detention.

Alvin Brown, on whom today’s case is based, came to Canada at the age of 7, where he was a permanent resident. He spent almost 5 years detained for immigration purposes in maximum security prisons, before his deportation and resulting separation from his family was expedited when his case came before the Ontario courts in August, 2016.

“It was horrible, I would have rather been dead than detained, not knowing when I would be released,” said Brown speaking from Jamaica this week. “It was traumatizing; I spent five years in there and I still can’t get over it. The experience is trapped in my mind.”

At least 15 people have died in Canadian immigration custody since 2000. The United Nations has repeatedly criticized Canada for refusing to introduce legislation that would place a 90-day limit on immigration detention. In a recent Ontario Superior Court decision, Justice Ian Nordheimer called Kashif Ali’s 7 year long detention ordeal, “unacceptable” and ordered his immediate release.  

Kimora, whose husband has been detained in maximum-security immigration prisons for eight months, spoke outside the federal court about the devastating impact indefinite detention has a on families.

“We didn’t have any chance to prepare, they [CBSA] just took him…He’s missed the kids’ birthdays. For a long time, I had to tell them that their father was working out of town, but now they know. Every day they are reminded of his absence,” said 33-year-old Kimora, who has lived in Canada for 25 years and resides with their three children in Oakville. “Canada says it supports family unification, but my husband is locked up indefinitely in a prison, separated from his children.”

Concerns have also been raised about the arbitrary or targeted nature of immigration detention. The majority of detainees EIDN has worked with are black, which runs counter to charter section 15, which guarantees the right to equality.

“Indefinite immigration detention violates international legal norms,” said MacDonald Scott, an immigration consultant who has provided legal support on the federal court case. Recently in the case of Kashif Ali, a Superior Court judge asked the government, how long is indefinite? Give me a time when it becomes indefinite? The government could not provide a time and clearly believes they can hold people as long as they like.”

 

The hearing at the federal court will run Monday and Tuesday of this week. EIDN affidavits are available upon request.

Source: endimmigrationdetention.com

 

Background and Key Facts

MEDIA ADVISORY: Federal Court to hear historic constitutional challenge to immigration detention

END IMMIGRATION DETENTION NETWORK

MEDIA ADVISORY

MAY 11, 2017

Media Contact: Nisha Toomey, 647-270-3025

Federal Court to hear historic constitutional challenge to immigration detention

Toronto, May 11, 2017 — The Federal Court of Canada is set to hear a historic case on Monday, May 15, challenging the constitutionality of Canada’s immigration law and the federal government’s much-criticized practice of indefinite immigration detention. This is the first time that Canada Border Services Agency, which is not subject to an oversight body, will be called on to justify its practice of long-term imprisonment.

Canada is one of the few western countries without a time limit on detentions.  Detainees, advocates, and the United Nations have criticized the lack of fair judicial oversight in the federal system. The End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN), a party in the case, will be presenting arguments that indefinite immigration detention is in violation of international law and sections 7, 9, and 12 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.  

WHEN: 8:30am, May 15, 2017

WHERE: Federal Court of Canada, 180 Queen St. W, Toronto

SPEAKERS: Kimora (Wife of current immigration detainee), Mac Scott (Immigration Consultant), Nisha Toomey (End Immigration Detention Network)

BACKGROUND

Alvin Brown is a Jamaican citizen who came to Canada at the age of 7.  He spent almost 5 years in immigration detention in maximum security prisons, separated from his children, and denied access to proper mental health supports.  Mr. Brown, who was a permanent resident, is arguing that the entire detention review system is unconstitutional because there is no limit to the length of detention. When Mr. Brown’s case under the Habeas Corpus Act reached the Ontario Superior Court in September 2016, the federal government expedited his deportation.  He was sent back to Jamaica and separated from his family and community.   

EIDN, an immigration detention watchdog, has been added as a party to the case, given their long-standing interest in supporting past and present detainees, and their families. EIDN has consistently called for a 90 day limit on detentions to bring Canada in line with international norms, as an interim step to ending the practice entirely.

In August, 2016, Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale responded to a 19-day hunger strike by immigration detainees in Lindsay’s Central Correctional Centre, by allotting $138 million to expand immigration prisons in Canada rather than creating laws to end indefinite detention.

At least 15 people have died in Canadian immigration custody since 2000. The United Nations has repeatedly criticized Canada for refusing to introduce legislation that would place a 90-day limit on immigration detention.

In a recent Ontario Superior Court decision, Justice Ian Nordheimer called Kashif Ali’s 7 year long detention ordeal, “unacceptable” and ordered his immediate release.  

The End Immigration Detention Network is going to court

On May 15th, The End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN) is going to court.  We need you to join us! SIGN UP HERE OR BELOW.

The case is Brown v. Minister of Citizenship and Immigration. It is a constitutional challenge to Canada’s immigration law, which allows indefinite immigration detention.

  • Alvin Brown is a Jamaican citizen who spent almost 5 years in immigration detention.
  • He lived in Canada from the age of 7, in 1983 until he was deported in September 2016.
  • He is challenging the entire detention review system as being unconstitutional, in part because there is no limit to the length of detention.
  • EIDN is a party in his case and will be bringing forward evidence of many detainees who have experienced lengthy and indefinite detention.
  • We will be arguing that indefinite immigration detention violates both international law and the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Please come to the Federal Court of Canada, 180 Queen St W, Toronto on May 15, 2017.

A rally and press conference will begin at 8:30am and court support begins at 9:30am.

EIDN has been campaigning for a release period for almost four years, arguing that a detainee should be released after 90 days if they are not removed.

EIDN would like to acknowledge the invaluable contributions of the many people involved, especially detainees who have courageously participated in this challenge to seek justice and dignity for immigration detainees. 

Another death at the Central East Correctional Center

On December 15th, Soleiman Faqiri a Ca15995191_222521801542033_7142870867000185252_onadian citizen, was pronounced dead after spending 11 days at the Central East Correctional Center. Soleiman, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia, was awaiting a transfer to a mental health facility leading up to his death. During this time, he was denied visits from his family without any explanation. lt has been almost two months and the family has received no answers and had to find out from a report released by the Kawartha police that he died after an altercation with the guards.

A year and a half ago Abdurahman lbrahim Hassan, an immigration detainee
who was also diagnosed with mental health issues died while in this exact prison without any answers in respects to his death.

Why was Soleiman denied visits during his short time at the CECC?
Why has the family yet to receive any sort of response from the prison or the minister of public safety?

Questions need to be answered. Both of these men need justice. Although Soleiman Faqiri was not an immigration detainee, his death is a reminder of the violence everyone faces while in prison, especially those with mental health issues. He reminds us that we must work to not only end immigration detention but to re-imagine a world without prisons and work to make this vision happen.

We stand in solidarity with Soleiman Faqiri and his family and are asking people to

 attend his vigil on Wednesday at Nathan Philips Square at 6pm to bring attention to his death.

Family and friends are also asking for people to sign a petition to seek accountability in his death from Marie France-Lalonde the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services.

#EndDetentions #surroundTIHC (Toronto Immigration Holding Centre)

fb-banner-template-3Saturday, December 10 – 4pm
TIHC (Toronto Immigration Holding Centre), 385 Rexdale Blvd
Buses leave Kipling Subway Station at 3:15pm
RSVP for the bus below!

Racisms abound. Our families are displaced globally. They are denied status here in Canada.
Our Black and Brown families are locked up without charges or trial. Indefinitely. In max-security Ontario prisons.
15 detainees have died since 2000, 3 of them in the last 6 months.
The Toronto Immigration Holding Centre is being expanded, as are jails across the country.
On December 10th (International Human Rights Day), join us and join hands around this prison.
Against Detentions. Against Prisons. Not just for rights but for Freedom. For Freedom to Move, Return, Stay.
For our families. With Love.
#surroundTIHC #EndDetentions

Coordinated by No One Is Illegal – Toronto as a member of the End Immigration Detention Network

Break the Media Silence: Spread the Word About the Hunger Strike

CALL MIN RALPH GOODALE! ASK HIM TO END INDEFINITE DETENTION
613-947-1153 / @RalphGoodale / ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca
SIGN THIS PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/no-more-deaths-no-more-detentions

Like us on Facebook | Follow us on Twitter
If you are in Toronto, join this event on November 9th: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/node/998

Get more information here. Contact usContact us to get involved.

elevate

Banners Dropped Across the Country – End Detentions!

October 21, 2016 — As immigration detainees continue their third hunger strike, allies across the country dropped banners insisting on ‘Indefinite Resistance to Indefinite Detention’.

Coordinated by End Immigration Detention Peterborough