Detentions watchdog calls for immediate federal action after Ontario sanctions the continued imprisonment of long-term detainee


OCTOBER 5, 2017

Media Contact: MacDonald Scott, 647-761-3860

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Olukunle Adetunji, imprisoned in immigration detention for almost a year, argued against transferring Ebrahim Toure to the Rexdale Immigration Holding Centre. “A jail is a jail,” he said.

Toronto, October 5, 2017 — The End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN) is calling for the immediate introduction of a time limit on how long someone can be imprisoned after Ontario Superior Court Justice Alfred O’Marra ruled against the release of Ebrahim Toure, detained without charge in a maximum-security jail for four-and-a-half years.

“The lack of justice in the courts and Ontario’s refusal to face its complicity in a broken system underlines, yet again, the need for the Federal government to step in, rein in CBSA, and place a 90-day limit on detentions,” said EIDN spokesperson Yes.

46-year-old Toure has been detained in Lindsay’s Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) since February 2013, while the Immigration and Refugee Board have denied his release on over 50 occasions, despite him facing no charges.

“I’ve been in here almost five years with no charge. Why did this happen?” said Toure from inside the CECC in advance of court proceedings. “If I am released I can work, I can be with my community. Why hold me so long?”

PHOTOS AVAILABLE FOR USE HERE (credit: End Immigration Detention Network)

Denied release, Toure is now the longest-serving immigration detainee currently imprisoned in Canada’s much maligned detention regime. The Federal government continues to avoid overhauling a detention regime that has been repeatedly criticized by the United Nations and denounced by immigrant families and advocates. In 2014, the U.N. asserted that there is no fair judicial oversight of immigration detention in the federal system and in August of this year the U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) called on Canada to establish “a legal time limit on the detention of migrants.”

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MacDonald Scott, legal counsel for Ebrahim Toure, spoke after court about the need for the federal government to introduce a 90-day limit on detentions.

“These time-wasting court challenges have to stop,” said MacDonald Scott, a member of Toure’s legal team, speaking outside court following the decision. “The federal government continues to ignore people like Mr Toure’s constitutional right to liberty. As such, it is imperative it introduce, at minimum, a time-limit on detentions.”

“Jailing people like Ebrahim for so long is not fair. He’s needs help and he needs justice,” said Mamadou Sahoneh, gathered with other Gambian community members outside the court. “But no one should be jailed forever. We strongly support End Immigration Detention Network’s demand to end indefinite immigration detention so Ebrahim can once again be with his community.”

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Mamadou Sahoneh spoke on behalf of the gathered Gambian community, who want Ebrahim released to be with them.

Last week, CBSA announced plans to expand its detention facilities, including new facilities in Surrey, B.C. and Laval, Que.

“The government is investing millions of dollars to expand and renovate immigration detention facilities,” added Yes. “This signals not an exit strategy but rather a blind commitment to the the costly continuation of a broken status quo.”

Canada is one of the few countries in the world without a limit on detentions, and a third of all its immigration detainees are imprisoned in maximum security provincial jails. Immigration detention is imprisonment without trial or charges. 15 people have died in immigration detention, three in Ontario jails during 2016.

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