#EndDetentions #surroundTIHC (Toronto Immigration Holding Centre)

fb-banner-template-3Saturday, December 10 – 4pm
TIHC (Toronto Immigration Holding Centre), 385 Rexdale Blvd
Buses leave Kipling Subway Station at 3:15pm
RSVP for the bus below!

Racisms abound. Our families are displaced globally. They are denied status here in Canada.
Our Black and Brown families are locked up without charges or trial. Indefinitely. In max-security Ontario prisons.
15 detainees have died since 2000, 3 of them in the last 6 months.
The Toronto Immigration Holding Centre is being expanded, as are jails across the country.
On December 10th (International Human Rights Day), join us and join hands around this prison.
Against Detentions. Against Prisons. Not just for rights but for Freedom. For Freedom to Move, Return, Stay.
For our families. With Love.
#surroundTIHC #EndDetentions

Coordinated by No One Is Illegal – Toronto as a member of the End Immigration Detention Network

Break the Media Silence: Spread the Word About the Hunger Strike

613-947-1153 / @RalphGoodale / ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca
SIGN THIS PETITION: https://www.change.org/p/no-more-deaths-no-more-detentions

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If you are in Toronto, join this event on November 9th: http://toronto.nooneisillegal.org/node/998

Get more information here. Contact usContact us to get involved.


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.

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.

Hunger strike forces announcement on detentions – the struggle continues.

On August 15, the Federal Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale pitched a new national immigration detention strategy. Before we share our analysis of this announcement, let us first discuss the context within which the announcement was made.

Melkioro Gahungu, Francisco Astorga, and an as-yet unidentified man, died in immigration detention in the last six months. Three deaths under Goodale’s watch, and not a single word of apology, accountability or responsibility from the Federal Liberals.

The silence was broken only when dozens of people put their health and lives at stake. On July 11th, around 50 immigration detainees began a hunger strike in two Ontario prisons. The strike grew to over 60 detainees by Day 2. The hunger strike lasted 19 days and during this time supporters of migrant justice took to the streets in Regina, Ottawa, Toronto and Peterborough. In Goodale’s hometown, indigenous land defenders at the Colonialism No More camp showed up again and again at Goodale’s offices and public appearances until he met with them. Solidarity messages and letters of support flooded in. Hundreds of us called, emailed and tweeted at Minister Goodale.

Goodale spoke, not because of the goodness of his Liberal heart, but because we – all of us, but most importantly immigration detainees – pressured him to do so. And it wasn’t easy. Goodale tried to ignore us, and tried to dismiss our pressure with a public blog full of lies and misrepresentations.

Now, let us examine the announcement. $138 million will be used to renovate or rebuild two (of the three) immigration prisons in Canada, in Laval, Quebec and Vancouver, British Columbia. $10 million of these funds will be allocated to mental health supports. Consultations will take place at some point, likely by invitation, to make further changes.

We do not expect radical transformation from any government body, but we asked ourselves: Would these changes have kept Melkioro, Francisco, Abdurrahman or anyone else alive? Would these changes mean that individuals would not be jailed in maximum security prisons? Would these changes mean that individuals and families and children would not be jailed indefinitely without charges or trial? The answer to all of the above is a resounding No. In fact, the Liberals’ only response to the hunger strike denouncing gross human rights violation in detention is to pour money into detention centres. This level of cynicism is disgusting.

To answer yes to those questions, the Federal Liberals would have to pass laws, or propose regulations, or at least make a policy changes that end indefinite detention, that end the detention of children, that end the maximum security imprisonment of detainees. The entire process by which detainees are detained would need to be revised (see explanation).

That hasn’t happened – and so our work is far from done. Just last week, we were in court with Alvin Brown, who was imprisoned without charges or trial for over five years. We used a creative, and never-tried-before legal strategy, to get the Ontario provincial courts to rule on a federal immigration matter. While we were expect the ruling to come in a few weeks, CBSA was up to its dirty tricks. Alvin Brown was deported in the middle of the litigation, suspiciously timed to ensure that case law favourable to immigration detainees wouldn’t be created. His lawyers are still seeking damages.

Over the next few months, we will be in the streets, the courts, in MP offices, and on social media raising hell, and seeking your support to end immigration detention. But know this, the fight is far from done. 

End Immigration Detention Network

(End Immigration Detention Peterborough, End Detentions Vancouver, Fuerza Puwersa and No One Is Illegal – Toronto)

As post-script, we must note three other things:

  1. Cloaked in sunshine, sparkles, and grand boasts of being different from the previous Conservative government, the Federal Liberals’ prison expansion project was developed under the previous government, which is why money had already been earmarked and this announcement could be made. The Toronto Immigration Holding Centre is already being expanded, expected to be completed by January 2017, at a cost of some $40 million.

  2. As organizations and individuals, we have come together in the broader work of ensuring freedom to move, return, and stay. We are campaigning against indefinite immigration detention because of who detainees are. Detainees are racialized people forced to flee the ravages of capitalism, war, environmental disaster and social oppression. They arrive here, and are denied basic services because of racisms, and ingrained anti-poor structures. A few turn to crime, and end up in prison faster and for longer because of anti-Black racism. Some cannot be deported because they come from underdeveloped countries which cannot provide the documentation Canada unjustly demands, or because those countries very rightly refuse to accept detainees if they’ve spent most of their lives in Canada. To call for an end to immigration detention is to call for an end to racisms, patriarchy, displacement, and unjust exploitation of the Global South. Since September 2013, we’ve built relationships with immigration detainees, some who have been released, some who have been deported, and some who remain imprisoned, and this campaign is guided as much by their vision as it is ours. 
  3. Our work is one of solidarity. Over the last few months, we have repeatedly heard governmental bodies, and even non-governmental groups suggesting that detainees shouldn’t be kept with ‘criminal populations’. We reject this suggestion. First, most people imprisoned in provincial prisons, where immigration detainees are locked up, are legally innocent, that is they have not had a trial. Second, prisons are not places for rehabilitation or corrections, they are spaces of punishment that provide no resources for individuals to live a life of dignity on the outside. Finally, most people in jail are poor, in jail for crimes against property – and in our society of racism, and capitalism, the burden of the crime cannot be borne by the individual, without profound restructuring of all of social life. As such as individuals, we join with everyone organizing for the abolition of the prison industrial complex.


Immigration Detentions watchdog concerned about possible strong-arming of Jamaican government

Toronto, August 30, 2016 — The End Immigration Detention Network is raising concerns about the suspicious and sudden promise of travel documents in the midst of Mr Alvin Brown’s fight to be released from detention being heard by the Ontario Superior Court this week. Mr Brown has been under a removal order since 2005, and has been imprisoned since September 2011. Canada has not been able to secure travel documents from Jamaica to date. Today, as Mr Brown for the first time is finally getting his day in a court where litigation may result in his release and reparations, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) has produced an email from the Jamaican consulate promising issuing of travel documents.

“Why did it take 11 years for CBSA to get the promise of a travel document, and how did it suddenly happen in the midst of litigation? The public should be gravely concerned about the possibility of CBSA strong arming foreign governments to subvert the establishing of precedent and good case law. One may think this was coincidence had the exact same thing not happened in our previous Habeas attempt in the case of Michael Mvogo and Glory Anawa. In any case, we need the Federal government to step in, rein in CBSA, place a 90 day limit on detentions, end maximum security imprisonment, and overhaul the judicial review process as initial steps to ending immigration detention.” said Syed Hussan of the End Immigration Detention Network.

Mr Brown’s case is only possible because the Ontario Court of Appeals asserted jurisdiction in a previous immigration detainee group Habeas Corpus case in 2015. The two lead claimants in that case where Mr Michael Mvogo and Ms Glory Anawa. Before Mr Mvogo and Ms Anawa could have their hearing on facts – which is what Mr Brown is engaged in this week – both of them were deported. A third claimant, Ms Amina Chowdhury was offered a settlement by CBSA and so no case law was created. Mr Mvogo at that point had been in detention for nearly 10 years, and Ms Anawa for almost four years and travel documents, previously unavailable, were suspiciously produced in the midst of litigation in 2015 too.

Jamaica relies heavily on Canadian aid. The Canadian Special Operations Regiment is currently based in Jamaica. Over 8,000 Jamaican farm workers came to Canada in 2016 under the Seasonal Agricultural Workers Program. Jamaican Minister of Labour and Social Security Shahine Robinson was visiting Canada just earlier this month. All of this, in addition to the suspicious timing of Mr. Brown’s travel documents, leads to serious concerns of CBSA engaging in strong-arming the Jamaican Government.



Media Release: Ontario Court asks Border Enforcement to explain Indefinite Detention




Media Contact: Syed Hussan, 416-453-3632

Ontario Court asks Border Enforcement to explain Indefinite Detention

Toronto, August 30, 2016 — The Ontario Superior Court is set to hear a historic case today, when it will call on Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and the Department of Justice to justify the imprisonment of Alvin Brown, detained since September 2011. This is an almost unheard of occurrence where a provincial court is stepping in on a federal immigration detention matter.

Detainees, advocates and even the United Nations in 2014 have insisted that there is no fair judicial oversight of immigration detention in the federal system. The Ontario Court’s decision to hear this case justified this position. The End Immigration Detention Network, which is supporting Mr Brown, is insisting on a fundamental overhaul of federal immigration detention including overhaul of the judicial oversight process, a 90 day limit on detentions, and end to maximum security imprisonment as initial steps to ending immigration detention.

IMAG1739“Mr Brown is in indefinite detention without any possibility of release as a result of lack of policies limiting detention in Canada,” said Mr Macdonald Scott, Counsel for Mr Alvin Brown at a press conference Tuesday morning. “He has no option but to turn to provincial courts to end his incarceration, but not all detainees can avail this path which shows the need for immediate legislative reform.”

Mr Alvin Brown, forty, has lived in Canada since the age of eight. He was a permanent resident, but is now subject to a removal order to Jamaica. That removal order, however, cannot be executed. Notwithstanding this fact, he has been detained “for removal” for nearly five years, since September 2011.

“Mr Brown is stuck in a system that he can’t get out of, he can’t be deported, no laws compels his release and as a result he is getting sick, can Minister Goodale guarantee that Mr Brown will not die next?” said Syed Hussan, spokesperson for the End Immigration Detention Network. “While we hope that the Ontario courts release Mr Brown who has spent most of his life in Canada today, we are also calling on the Ontario government to refuse to do CBSA’s dirty work, and stop detaining migrants, and on the Federal government to bring in new laws that end unjust immigration detention.”

15 people have died in immigration detention since 2000, three in just the last six months. Canada is one of the few countries in the world without a limit on detentions, and a third of all immigration detainees are imprisoned in maximum security provincial jails primarily in Ontario.

In July, immigration detainees across Ontario went on hunger strike in support of their demands and requesting a meeting with Ralph Goodale, Federal Minister for Public Safety. Detainees have continually asked for a clear commitment from political representatives to bring Canada in line with international best practices and end indefinite maximum security detention. Over 17,000 people have signed a petition in support.

“Mr Brown is being punished three times, first he was sentenced for a crime, then his permanent residency was revoked, and lastly he has been imprisoned for nearly five years without charges or trial or end in sight,” added Hussan on the steps of the Ontario Superior Court. “Every part of the immigration detention system is broken, and must be transformed, we don’t need more prisons, we need new laws.”

Two weeks ago, Minister Ralph Goodale announced a prison build program as part of overhaul of Canadian immigration detention, but did not deal with the fundamental issues of indefinite detention in maximum security prisons without judicial oversight.

Key facts about immigration detention & violations

  • Since 2000, at least 15 immigrants have died in CBSA custody, 3 in just the last six months. At least 8 of the deaths took place in Ontario provincial prisons. Most common cause of death is denial of adequate health care followed by suicide. CBSA has never publicly revealed details of all the deaths in its custody.
  • Over 7300 migrants were detained without charges or trial in 2013. Approximately, one-third of all detention happens in maximum security provincial facilities rented out by provincial governments to Canada Border Services Agency. 60% of all detentions take place in Ontario. In 2013, migrant detainees spent a whopping total of 183,928 days (that’s over 503 years) in immigration detention. Detentions cost over a quarter of a billion dollars over five years.
  • CBSA regularly imprisons children. At the same time, it does not report on imprisonment of children with Canadian citizen insisting that they are ‘accompanying’ their parents.
  • Canada is one of the few western countries in the world without a time limit on detentions, thus some immigrants have been jailed for over 12 years without charges or trial. The United Nations has twice asked Canada to end this practice. 146 doctors, nurses and social workers and 109 lawyers called on Ontario to end the province’s deal with Ottawa that allows the jailing of immigration detainees in provincial prisons in June 2016.
  • There is absolutely no system to determine under what circumstances some detainees are held in one of three federal immigration holding centres (Toronto, Laval and Vancouver) and the rest in provincial jails.
  • The decision to detain or release is made by civil servants, who are not legally trained, known as Board Members. Board Members release rates vary arbitrarily between 5% and 38%. Release rates also vary by region, 9% in Ontario, and 26.5% in the rest of Canada. There is no comprehensive judicial oversight of these decisions. An immigration detainee does not have an automatic right of appeal.
  • If convicted for a crime, immigrants unlike citizens are punished three times. First, for the crime itself. Second, by having their immigration status revoked or if it’s in process, denied, and pushed into deportation. Third, by being jailed, in some cases indefinitely.
  • The purpose of detention is stated to be ‘flight risk’ or ‘danger to the public’. There exist no criteria to make this designation, and no appeals process or access to courts to challenge it. Immigration detention is limited to undocumented residents – who may be denied refugee claimants, migrants who overstayed their work, study or visit permits or former permanent residents who had their status revoked. Contrary to popular perception, 94.2 percent of refugees are detained on grounds other than being an alleged security threat.