What should Canada do with those migrants it cannot deport for a variety of reasons? Is indefinite detention the answer?
That’s the crux of a petition to the United Nations by migrant advocates who want hundreds of migrants currently held for immigration violations to be released.
On Wednesday, members of End Immigration Detention Network, a community umbrella group, filed an official complaint to the U.N. High Commissioner for Human rights on behalf of Michael Mvogo, a Cameroon man, who has been detained in jail for seven years.
“Canadians need to be concerned that we are holding hundreds of people at a cost of $239 a day for the purposes of removal when they clearly cannot be removed,” Macdonald Scott, counsel for Mvogo, told reporters at a rally in front of the Federal Court on Queen St.
“It is a waste of taxpayers’ money and it’s a breaking of their rights.”
Syed Hussan of the End Immigration Detention Network said immigration detainees are stuck in immigration hold because they are refused travel documents by their country of origin, deemed convention refugees despite their criminal convictions in Canada or placed on a removal moratorium due to volatile conditions back home.
Canada, a signatory to the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, should abide by the international law and limit immigration detention to 90 days, Hussan said.
Mvogo, 46, arrived Canada in 2005 allegedly with a fraudulent American passport and was arrested a year later in a Toronto homeless shelter by police for possession of a small amount of cocaine.
For years, immigration officials were unable to confirm his identity. Attempts were made to deport him to the U.S., Haiti and Guinea, where Mvogo was linked.
Mvogo ultimately told officials he came from Cameroon but he has yet to be issued a passport to return there.
“It is up to the Canadian government whether it decides to be a rogue nation in contradiction to international law or follow the international law,” said Scott.
The End Immigration Detention Network has asked the UN to issue an opinion to demand the interim release of Mvogo while the complaint is being examined.