END IMMIGRATION DETENTION NETWORK RESPONDS TO DEATH IN IMMIGRATION CUSTODY

Toronto, June 12, 2015 – Following the death of a man being held in a Lindsay, Ontario prison, the End Immigration Detention Network (EIDN), Canada’s leading detention watch group, which works with detainees in the same prison, is increasing its call for an end to immigration detention and for the Ontario government to cut ties with Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA).

CBSA is clearly unwilling to act on the death and misery caused by immigration detention. Immigration detention needs to end. The Provincial government is also directly responsible for jailing people that continue to die under its watch,” says Syed Hussan of End Immigration Detention Network.

On June 11, 2015 it was revealed that an immigration detainee, who was being held in Ontario’s maximum security Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay, died in a Peterborough hospital after being “restrained” by officers according to Ontario’s Special Investigation Unit (SIU).  

The detainee, whose name will be released later this afternoon, died as a result of a lack of appropriate, timely, and effective medical care for his diabetic condition. CBSA is refusing to be transparent about the conditions that led to his death, while concern continues to grow about the inadequate levels of health care provided to detainees. Immigration detainees are held under the jurisdiction of CBSA but in Ontario, a third of all detainees are held in provincial prisons.

EIDN is calling for an inquiry into the causes of death and immediate action to avoid further such tragedies. This is the twelfth reported death in detention custody. EIDN has led a campaign since September 2013 when nearly 200 immigrants in CECC went on hunger strike, calling for an end to immigration detention and demanding that the Ontario government cut ties with CBSA.

EIDN member Caileigh McKnight from Peterborough adds, “This news is yet another heartbreaking reason to end the injustice of immigration detention. The provincial government is locking up people in Ontario’s jails without trial or charge, not providing adequate health care and people are dying.

A GlobalNews report last November documented 11 deaths in immigration detention custody since 2000, including that of Lucia Vega Jimenez, whose passing lead to calls for an independent public inquiry. Canada Border Services Agency has no oversight body.

In September 2014, a leaked Red Cross report found denial of family contact, increasing imprisonment of minors and children, violation of basic legal rights, worsening mental health in detention, and alternatives to detention as key areas of concern. Between 2008 and 2014, the Red Cross were denied visits to Ontario’s jails.

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Media Contact:

Syed Hussan – 416.453.3632

Caileigh McKnight – 705.931.2405

Macdonald Scott – 647.761.3860

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Also, please see:

– Groundbreaking study of immigration detention in Canada: https://endimmigrationdetention.com/2014/06/09/groundbreaking-report-on-immigration-jail-reveals-troubling-patterns-signs-of-political-interference/

– Global News: ‘Canada’s Unwanted: Non-citizens paid to leave, jailed without charge, die in secret.’ http://globalnews.ca/news/1645726/canadas-unwanted-non-citizens-paid-to-leave-jailed-without-charge-die-in-secret/

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Update: Immigration Detainees take part in prison walk-out

We can now confirm that last Monday immigration detainees as well as general population inmates at the Central East Correctional Center, in Lindsay ON took direct action and collectively refused to go back into their cells when they were instructed to by prison guards. Inmates were protesting the fact that guard shortages over the summer have led to continuous lockdowns; sometimes spanning for days on end. Inmates argue that these conditions are inhumane and that guard shortages should not affect their quality of life while in jail. The protest lasted several hours and was ended after a prison negotiator was brought in to get inmates to go back into  their cells. However, the majority of the inmates were left frustrated and unsatisfied as the prison negotiator did not speak to individuals demanding an end to lockdowns and chose to speak to a small number of inmates who changed the focus and were asking for items to be brought into the jail. Following the protest, some ranges were once again put on lockdown for two days. Inmates including immigration detainees are talking of hosting another walk-out if conditions do not change in the near future.

Update: more information from inside CECC

A migrant justice advocate spoke to a detainee in CECC today and learned that the hunger strike is continuing and the striker’s demands continue to be the same.

CECC Superintendent Neil Neville has not been interacting with the detainees at all; instead, Deputy Superintendent Craig Hellin who has been communicating with CBSA and then passing information along to the detainees on strike. Mr. Hellin is the CECC official who told folks that they would soon have international calling access, a demand that has not been met.  Mr. Hellin says he will update strikers tomorrow (Wednesday) with the latest information from CBSA.

The detainee said that one individual was taken to the hospital after the first hunger strike last week. He confirmed that five out of the six immigration ranges at CECC are all participating in the strike. Each range has 32 detainees, which means there i currently a total of 160 people participating in the hunger strike.

The detainee also requested that people and activist groups contact CBSA personally with statements supporting the strike. Watch this blog for more information on how to contact CBSA.

Support the strike! Contact Deputy Superintendent Craig Hellin at 705-328-6014 and craig.hillen@ontario.ca

Lindsay Immigration Detainee Strike: Day 8 – Hunger Strike is Continuing

– The Hunger Strike is Still On!
– The detainees have been put into lockdown as a result and the jail is turning their units into segregation units
– A nurse is checking them all regularly due to the strike
– Saturday CBSA was supposed to come in and visit, they did not come and said they would come Monday, they did not come Monday

Please sign the petition: https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/neil-neville-meet-the-demands-of-striking-immigrant-detainees

If you are a family member of an immigration detainee, please get in touch with us at nooneisillegal@riseup.net

Update! The detainees have resumed their hunger strike.

We received Monday morning that a 191 immigration detainees are back on hunger strike. If you are a friend or a family member of these prisoners – please get in touch with us at nooneisillegal@riseup.net.

Make sure you sign the petition! https://www.change.org/en-CA/petitions/neil-neville-meet-the-demands-of-striking-immigrant-detainees