please read our updated statement by clicking here
share on facebook | share on twitter
As over 60 immigration detainees in two maximum security prisons enter Day 5 of their hunger strike, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has decided after a 12 month investigation that police are not responsible for Mr Abdurrahman Ibrahim Hassan’s death. Abdurrahman was in immigration detention at the Central East Correctional Centre for three years without charges or trial when he died on June 11, 2015. The only known cause of death is from an SIU statement in June 2015 that he died after being “restrained by officers”. We need you take action, read on to see what you can do.
It comes as no surprise to any of us that the SIU found police not-guilty in the case of another Black Somali refugee’s death. Black Lives Matter Toronto, and even the Ontario Ombudsman haves urged SIU reform which consists of former cops investigating current cops and letting them free time and again for murder.
We also know that Abdurrahman died because of an intersection of local laws and global policies. He died because of our imperialist world order where Somalia remains war-ravaged. He died because refugees arriving with mental health illnesses get little support, and then when they end up breaking the law, get criminal convictions. Criminal convictions that result in their refugee status being revoked, and in Abdurrahman’s case, endless detentions and eventually death.
Ending indefinite maximum security detention is one part of creating justice in this brutal, violent, and deadly system, and we urge you to take action today by signing our petition, calling Ralph Goodale and issuing letters of support. Scroll below to see how.
Abdurrahman came to Canada as a refugee in the 1993 as a teenager from war-torn Somalia. While his siblings and mother were granted permanent residency status, Mr Hassan’s permanent residency was delayed and then denied because of petty crimes, according to his family members who are requesting privacy from the media at this time. The instability of living without status worsened his post-traumatic stress disorder. In 2012, Mr Hassan was separated from his sister, nieces and nephews and jailed in a maximum security prison, CECC, on behalf of CBSA but deportations to Somalia are almost impossible so he remained indefinitely imprisoned until his untimely death.
A Coroner’s inquest is expected to called in Mr Hassan’s death. The inquest will likely take place in two years time, and its recommendations are not mandatory. We can’t wait two years for answers and recommendations that no one will follow!
When Abdurrahman died a year ago, 88 detainees issued a joint letter concerned about his mysterious death. One of his former cellmates, himself an immigration detainee since August 2013, said “Abdurrahman was a really nice guy, he was friendly to officers and nurses, he shouldn’t have been here, he had served his time but he was still in jail. People should know that he had diabetes and a limp and they put him in the top bunk, I had to help him up and down to his bed and he was often in pain. He had major sleep apnea, the doctors prescribed him a breathing machine, but the jail didn’t give it to him so he would lose his breath while asleep and I had to wake him up. He was a young man, but used to say to me that he would just die in jail, and he did. This immigration detention system, they don’t think we are human, we will all die here in Canada and no one will know.”
Three other men have died in immigration detention since Mr Hassan’s death. One of them is Francisco Romero Astorga who died in March, 2016. His family is also seeking answers. Francisco’s brother Esteban Astorga said, “With my heart full of sadness and my mind still trying to imagine the last minutes of my brother, left alone and desperate, I can say that there is no easy way to understand how hard it is to face this unbearable situation. Our family is with Abdurrahman’s family in these difficult times. When this is going to stop?! Canadians must raise their voice and change this system that is taking lives!“
Unless we take action, many more will continue to die.
Death in immigration detention in Ontario prisons
- Francisco Javier Romero Astorga (March 2016) Cause of death unknown (in Ontario provincial prison)
- Melkioro Gahungu (March 2016) Suicide (in Ontario provincial prison)
- Abdurahman Ibrahim Hassan (June 2015) Cause of death unknown (in Ontario provincial prison)
- Joseph Dunn (September 2014) Suicide (in Ontario provincial prison)
- Unidentified man (March 2013) Cause of death unknown (in Ontario provincial prison)
- Shawn Dwight Cole (December 2012) Denied adequate medical care (in Ontario provincial prison)
- Kevon O’Brien-Phillip (January 2010) Beaten by fellow inmates (in Ontario provincial prison)
- Sheik Kudrath (April 2000) Denied adequate medical care (in Ontario provincial prison)
Death in immigration detention outside of Ontario prisons
- Unidentified man (May 2016), Cause of death unknown (Edmonton remand centre)
- Prince Maxamillion Akamai (April 2014) Denied adequate medical care (Toronto Immigration Holding Centre)
- Lucia Vega Jimenez (December 2013) Suicide (in Vancouver immigration holding centre)
- Unidentified man (August 2010) Cause of death unknown (in Laval immigration holding centre)
- Jan Szamko (December 2009) Denied adequate medical care (in Toronto immigration holding centre)
- Joseph Fernandes (January 2007) Denied adequate medical care (in Toronto immigration holding centre)
- Unidentified man (Unknown) Cause of death unknown (unknown) – only reported in CBSA documents but no other details.