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

END IMMIGRATION DETENTION NETWORK

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) https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9aDudETtA3sN2JYQUh6Y3A2NDQ

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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Media Release: Recently reunited family calls on government to stop father’s deportation

SEPTEMBER 11, 2017

Media Contact: Swathi Sekhar, 416-885-8534

Recently reunited family calls on government to stop father’s deportation

Toronto, September 11, 2017 — With back-to-school season in full swing, a recently reunited Oakville family is calling on the Federal government to stay their father’s deportation order. Olukunle Adetunji, a Nigerian man detained for almost a year in maximum security immigration prisons without charge, is facing removal from Canada and permanent separation from his three children after Canada Border Services Agency rushed through a deportation order despite Adetunji having a pending application for permanent residence in Canada.

“The federal government thinks it can silence us with these bullying tactics,” said Olukunle’s wife Kimora outside of the Federal Court Monday, where an appeal for the deportation to be stayed is set to be heard.

“They took my children’s father away once. My kids had no idea where their father was for 10 months.  Now, after we’ve finally been reunited, the government is trying to intimidate us and split us up again.”

Just recently in July 2017, Olukunle was finally reunited with his children, after spending most of 2017 detained in immigration facilities across Ontario. His wife Kimora and their three children are all Canadian citizens; and now they again face the cruel prospect of being permanently separated from their father and husband.

“Just a few  weeks ago, I was overjoyed at the chance to reunite with my family and get on with my life. Now I’m being asked to leave my family, all of whom are Canadian citizens and call this place home,” said Adetunji, who was released on bail in July.

I came to Canada because I needed to be with my family, to be with my wife and my children. Now, all I ask is to stay.”

This rush deportation order comes on the heels of several rulings from judges that has put the “Kafkaesque” federal regime of indefinite immigration detention under increased public scrutiny. Most recently, a Superior Court justice released Ricardo Scotland, an immigration detainee with no criminal record who had been held in a maximum security prison for 10 months.

The federal government also faced a historic Charter challenge to its practice of long-term imprisonment of detainees in May, in Brown vs. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration), where Kimora addressed an impassioned crowd at the court to advocate for the rights of detainees.  The End Immigration Detention Network, a watchdog opposed to immigration detention, and a party in the Charter challenge, is pushing for the end of indefinite detention, and the introduction of a 90-day limit for immigration detainees.

“CBSA has taken this family for a ride and now want to split them up for good,” said Dilani Mohan, who is representing the family at Federal Court.

“Their permanent residence application is in process and as Olukunle’s children start school for a new year, it is imperative that the family be allowed to stay together in Canada.”

In August, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) called on Canada to establish “a legal time limit on the detention of migrants”, immediately abolish the practice of the detention of minors, and ensure that immigration detention is only undertaken as a last resort.

BACKGROUND

Counsel for Adetunji was informed by CBSA in May that no removal would be executed until the application for humanitarian and compassionate leave was decided. Adetunji was released on bail on July 19th, 2017 as pressure mounted after a number of other immigration detainees had successfully argued their detention was unlawful under ‘habeas corpus.’

Media Advisory: Father detained for 10 months facing rushed deportation

SEPTEMBER 8, 2017

Media Contact: Swathi Sekhar, 416-885-8534

Father detained for 10 months facing rushed deportation

Toronto, September 8, 2017 — Olukunle Adetunji, a Nigerian man who was detained for almost a year in maximum security immigration prisons, is facing removal from Canada. The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has rushed through a deportation order, despite Adetunji having an outstanding application for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

In July 2017, Adetunji was finally released from immigration detention, after being held for 10 months in punitive conditions in a series of maximum security provincial prisons without charge. Adetunji’s wife Kimora and their three children are all Canadian citizens who have only just been reunited with Adetunji; now, just two months later, they are facing the cruel prospect of being permanently separated from their father and husband. The couple will address the media on Monday morning before an appeal for a stay of the deportation order is heard at the Federal Court.

WHEN: September 11, 2017, 10:00 am

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

SPEAKERS: Olukunle Adetunji (Former immigration detainee facing deportation), Kimora Adetunji (Wife of Olukunle), MacDonald Scott (Family’s lawyer), Karl Gardner (End Immigration Detention Network)

BACKGROUND

Counsel for Adetunji was informed by CBSA in May that no removal would be executed until the application for humanitarian and compassionate leave was decided. Adetunji was released on bail on July 19th, 2017 as pressure mounted after a number of other immigration detainees had successfully argued their detention was unlawful under ‘habeas corpus.’

Kimora Adetunji has been an outspoken advocate for immigration detainees, particularly during an historic challenge to the constitutionality of Canada’s detention regime in Brown vs. Canada, heard at the federal court in May.

The End Immigration Detention Network, a watchdog opposed to immigration detention and a party in the Charter challenge, is demanding an end to indefinite detention, and the introduction of a 90-day limit for immigration detainees. In August, the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) called on Canada to establish “a legal time limit on the detention of migrants.”

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.