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.”

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.

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

BREAKING: 17 Immigration Detainees Refusing Food at Ontario Maximum Security Prison

IMG_6255Two months from the date that Minister Goodale promised changes to the immigration detention system, 17 immigrants, jailed without charges and trial at the Central East Correctional Centre have begun to refuse food as of October 17. The immigration detainees are calling for an end to indefinite detention, with a 90 day limit on detentions, as an initial step to ending detentions.

One of the men on strike is Kashif Ali, who has been in immigration detention for a total of 12 years. He says, “I swear every night I sleep three or four hours, I don’t know if I will be released or put on a plane. They are making me go crazy, I can’t sleep, I am depressed, I have stomach problems. People like me, I am not fighting them, but we can’t be deported, we should be released, given ID and papers and the support to work. This is why I am going hungry.”

Ali, a 50-year-old Ghanian asylum seeker has been in Canada since December 1986. He has a 26 year old daughter in Newmarket and a common law partner. He was put in immigration jail in 1994, and deported to Ghana on fake Canadian travel documents in 1996. As a result of being deported on forgeries, he was jailed in Ghana for 10 months. He was then returned to Canada, where he was placed in immigration hold until 1999, when he was abruptly released without ID, work permit or social assistance. Ali struggled to make ends meet, and was rearrested in 2009, and has been in indefinite immigration since.

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

If you are in Toronto, join this event on November 3rd: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/node/998

“We have been on hunger strike twice this year, most recently for 19 days, at the end of which we were promised real change. The Minister went on the record and said that immigration detention is broken, but he did not specify long-term and indefinite detention which impacts many of us, separating us from our families and making us sick. Consultations were promised, and yet, have not taken place directly with detainees, while we are the primary stakeholders. We want an end to indefinite detention, we don’t want to be locked up in maximum security prisons, we want real access to effective legal remedies to contest our detention,” stated one of the strike organizers, on behalf of the 17.

Read End Immigration Detention Network’s analysis of what has been happening in immigration detention and the recent announcements here.