End Immigration Detention Network
Thursday, December 12, 2013

Media Liaison: Karin Baqi (647 402 4048) and Tings Chak (416 276 2174)

Immigration detainees re-start hunger fast; hundreds rally outside Lindsay jail.

Media Briefings at Christie Pits, Bloor St, Toronto at 11:00am and at Lindsay prison at 1:00pm, Dec 14th.

Lindsay, ON – Immigration detainees at the Centre East Correctional Centre, some of whom who have been indefinitely held for as long as seven years are calling for their release and an end to indefinite detention and maximum security incarceration by staging a 72 hour hunger fast. Family members, supporters and friends will by rallying outside of the jail in support. Buses and cars are departing from Toronto, Guelph, Kitchener, Hamilton, Peterborough and other parts of Ontario.

WHAT: Immigration detainees on hunger fast, and rally outside
WHEN: 1:00pm, Saturday, December 14th, 2013. Media Briefing also at 11am in Toronto.
WHERE: Central East Correctional Centre, Lindsay (1pm) and Christie Pits Park, Toronto (11am)
VISUALS: Toronto, over 100 family members and supporters will board buses carrying signs and banners, statements to be made by family members. Lindsay, at least 200 supporters and family members, playing music and holding up signs.

Opposition against indefinite immigration detention is growing. On Wednesday, over 70 leading labour, civil society, grassroots groups and individuals joined with migrant detainees in Lindsay, ON, and their families calling for an end to indefinite detention, maximum security incarceration of migrants and an overhaul of the adjudication process. Migrants in Lindsay have been on strike since September 17th. They have gone on hunger strike (two of them for over 60 days), refused to attend their detention hearings or enter their cells; and participated in other political actions. Striking migrants have faced reprisals with many deported, locked up in segregation, moved to other prisons and denied access to legal counsel.

Full list of endorsers and demands:


Detained migrants, their families and supporters have formed the Campaign to End Indefinite Detention and are making four simple, pragmatic demands:

1 – Freedom for the wrongly jailed: Release all migrant detainees who have been held for longer than 90 days.

2 – End arbitrary and indefinite detention: Implement a 90-day “presumptive period”. If removal cannot happen within 90 days, immigration detainees must be released. Presumptive periods are recommended by the United Nations, and are the law in the United States and the European Union.

3 – No maximum security holds: Immigration detainees should not be held in maximum security provincial jails; must have access to basic services and be close to family members.

4 – Overhaul the adjudication process: Give migrants fair and full access to legal aid, bail programs and pro bono representation.


Monday, October 7, 2013

Provincial Media Liaison: Macdonald Scott, 647 761 3860

See below for media spokespeople for individual cities.

Ontarians speak out in support of immigrant detainees on strike


Ontario — On October 8th, friends, family members and supporters across Ontario are speaking out against prison conditions and indefinite detention in support of nearly 200 immigration detainees who have been on strike in a maximum-security prison in Lindsay, ON since September 17th. Actions are happening across the province (details below).

“We have been here on hunger strike because what immigration has done is not right,” said Ayad Alshmmar from inside Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario, who has been in immigration detention for 5 years 8 months. He was diagnosed with cancer while in detention. “I tried to do hunger strike with my people but I could not do it, I felt sick without my medication. I went half a day. They know I have cancer, but they don’t care about it. They say whatever happened to you in jail, it has nothing to do with us. I said you guys put me in jail and I am sick. In this situation you have to do something. You have to release me to my freedom. They have a hospital treatment program in Toronto, which immigration could agree to put me in, not in jail, but they have refused.”

The detainees and their supporters are calling for an end to maximum security detention in provincial jails for migrants; a limit of 90 days that migrants can be held in detention pending deportation as per international law; full access to legal aid for detention reviews; and an overhaul of the adjudication appointment process for detention review. In addition, the strikers are calling for access to medical care,  decent food, social workers, legal services, and international calls and an end to constant lockdowns. Well over 1000 people have signed a petition in support.

“Detainees have refused to enter their cells, banging on their cell doors, refused to attend what they consider sham detention reviews and some have been on hunger strike for the last 14 days demanding justice. At least one detainee is on dry hunger strike and at least six have been hospitalized,” says Mina Ramos who has been speaking to prisoners.

“Immigration detention tears apart families, separating us from our loved ones, explains LaToya Lettman, whose husband is in jail. “I call on Ministers Meilleur and Blaney to release these people and bring end to indefinite detention and maximum security detention for immigration detainees.” She adds, “My husband and the other detainees are being subjected to regular ‘weigh-ins’ and if they’ve lost weight they get put in segregation. The food being served is appalling, there are grave concerns over the water quality, with many people developing skin problems and the medication provided is sub-standard.”

“Migrants are jailed indefinitely in direct contravention to the United Nations High Commission on Human Rights that demands that countries set a maximum period of time, called a presumptive period, that people can be detained pending removal,” explains immigration consultant Macdonald Scott, who has three clients on strike in Lindsay. “In the United States and United Kingdom that period is 90 days but Canada has no such limits relying instead on a broken review process every 30 days where almost no one gets released.”

“It costs Canada $239/day to hold a migrant in jail, for 200 people that’s over $17million a year,” says No One Is Illegal Toronto member Syed Hussan. “Yet these people are denied decent food, social support or even phone calls. This is an outrage that Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney and Corrections Minister Madeleine Meilleur must explain.”

For more information: and on twitter at #MigrantStrike


Guelph – Solidarity With Striking Detainees

10:30am, City Hall, 1 Carden Street. Mina Ramos 519 328 8835

Kitchener – Rally at Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services

12:30pm, King Street. Josh Gilbert 226 979 4682

Lindsay jail / Peterborough – Noise-Jam, flyering, car honking, rally!

10:30am. Ayendri Perera 647 233 3100

London – Petition Ontario’s Minister of Health’s constituency office

10:30am, 242 Piccadilly. David Heap 519 859 3579

Toronto – Prison Reenactment & Petition delivery

11am, College and Yonge Street. Mac Scott, 647 761 3860

Advisory: Nearly 200 Immigration Detainees Striking Over Prison Conditions

Lindsay, ON, September 23, 2013 –Over a 180 immigration detainees in Lindsay, Ontario’s Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) began protest actions on Tuesday, September 18th against conditions of their detention. The detainees were recently moved from other prisons in the Greater Toronto Area, about two hours away, and have lost touch with families and legal support as a result. Conditions at Lindsay are substantially worse for them then before. Some prisoners began a hunger strike on Wednesday which has now ended but other strike actions are continuing.

The detainees have listed demands to CECC, and they are as follows:

– Better access to medical care and social workers
– Cheaper phone calls and access to international calling cards (many have family overseas)
– Access to better food, like the food on the non-immigration ranges
– An end to constant lockdowns
– Keep the improved canteen program going
– Better access to legal aid and legal services
Additionally, detainees are demanding that the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) grant specific requests to move individuals to facilities nearer to their families, legal resources, and social services. The strike began on Tuesday morning when detainees refused to re-enter their cells. Negotiation with CECC officials led to detainees gaining access to the same canteen as the rest of the prison population. Detainees met with CBSA on Saturday.

“These immigrants are long-term detainees, people immigration enforcement cannot deport but will not release. People are held for ‘security’ reasons but this can be based on as little as a criminal charge that didn’t lead to a conviction or even being rude on arrest.” explains immigration consultant Macdonald Scott. Two of Scott’s clients are part of the strike actions. 
“Some people have been in jail for over 7 years because Canada unlike the US and UK has no limit on how long someone can be held prior to deportation. Conditions have dramatically worsened for many of the detainees after being moved to Lindsay,” Scott added.

CECC houses long-term male immigration detainees in six immigration units. In August, an additional 191 detainees were transferred from the Greater Toronto Area to the Lindsay facility, almost two hours away. This move further isolates detainees from family and legal support.

“The strike at CECC can be traced directly back to Canada’s ongoing harassment and abuse of immigrants and migrants,” says Emelina Ramos, a migrant justice advocate with the group Fuerza/Puwersa. “The number of people being detained for immigration reasons is escalating, along with the systematic dehumanization of migrating peoples and their families.”

No One Is Illegal – Toronto member Syed Hussan agrees. “Over the last 10 years, migrants on temporary permits like refugee claimants arriving in Canada has grown by 60%, while the number of permanent residency visas being granted has stayed the same. More and more families have to make the difficult decision to stay in Canada undocumented without rights and services. First Canada steals status from these families, and then it jails them. This is untenable.”Supporters say immigration detainees at CECC are given sub-par food, are subject to more frequent and longer periods of lockdown and have less access to recreation and services than the rest of the prison population.

Detainees are asking supporters to contact CECC Superintendent Neil Neville and CBSA to communicate their demands through a petition at He can be reached by phone at 705-328-6009 and by email at Neville was in charge of Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre (EMDC) in 2009, when two inmates died. He left EMDC in May 2011, and took on several roles within the provincial bureaucracy before taking over in Lindsay. Inquests held into the 2009 deaths painted a picture of an overcrowded, understaffed EMDC with inadequate medical care and supervision of inmates.

Media contacts:

Mac Scott, Carranza LLP

Emelina Ramos, Fuerza/Puwersa Guelph

Syed Hussan, No One Is Illegal – Toronto
416 453 3632



* Between 2004 and 2011, 82,000 people were locked up in immigration detention. At least another 25,000 have been imprisoned since 2011. In 2012, 289 of the detainees were children, many of them under the age of 10.

* There are three dedicated immigration detention centres in Canada: in Toronto, in Laval and in Vancouver. The Kingston centre, specially built for the security certificate detainees, known as “Guantanamo North”, was quietly closed in 2011.

* The rest of the detainees including those on strike actions, about 35% of the total are held in maximum security provincial prisons, some unable to leave their cells for 18 hours a day.  

* Though immigrants are depicted as security threats, only a tiny minority are detained on such allegations. In fact, 94.2% of refugees are detained for reasons completely unrelated to security or ‘danger to the public’.

* 4.8% of the detainees are children. This number however does not include minors “accompanying” their parents.

* $53, 775, 000 in public money is spent on immigration detention annually or $239 per day. Comparatively, a unit of social housing can be provided at less than $31/day. The total cost of immigration detention including surveillance and supervision of immigrants, particularly of security certificate detainees and those not in detention is much higher.

* Immigration detention centres are run in partnership with private companies like G4S, Garda and Corbel Management Corporation. In Toronto alone, G4S and Corbel were paid $19 million between 2004 and 2008. Garda has the contract for the Laval Immigration Holding Centre.

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