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Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter at protest against indefinite immigration detention

Detainees in the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ontario can contact the End Immigration Detention Network by calling the number on the banner. The number only works for those calling from inside this provincial jail.

Four members of the Council of Canadians Peterborough-Kawarthas chapter joined with the End Immigration Detention Network and other allies yesterday to protest against indefinite immigration detention and a harsh new policy that makes it harder for immigration detainees to receive visits in jail.

Chapter activist Roy Brady tells us, “Our Council of Canadians chapter continued to support End Immigration Detention Network active protests at the Central East Correctional Centre yesterday afternoon in Lindsay.”

Brady highlights, “In addition to the deplorable treatment of incarcerating detainees without charge, the jail has instituted much stricter regulations regarding who and when family, friends and supporters could visit – a further form of discrimination. The inmates are obviously in great need of visits and social comforting but will be further denied.”

Unlike in the United States or European Union, or as recommended by the United Nations, detainees awaiting deportation can be jailed indefinitely in Canada.

At any given time, between 520 and 700 people are in immigration detention (imprisonment without charges or trial) in Canada. Those who can’t be deported – sometimes because their home country is at war or won’t accept them – are often locked up in maximum security prisons for months or even years.

The international standard is to limit immigration detention to 90 days, but in Canada there is no such limit. Rabble.ca has noted, “Over 100 of those are being held [on immigration detention are there] on a long-term basis, some of whom have been jailed for more than five years.”

Even The Globe and Mail editorial board has commented, “Human rights advocates are right to raise concerns about the risk of arbitrariness in the system. It is also clear that many, if not most of the long-term detainees, some of whom suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or profound mental health issues, don’t belong in a criminal jail.”

But as Brady notes in his comments above this situation has worsened given a new visitor policy that came into effect last month.

That policy states, “On April 3, 2017, visitors to Central East Correctional Centre will be required to book a visits appointment at least 24 hours in advance of the visit date. Inmates will need to fill out an Inmate Visits Authorization Form. Only those listed on the form will be permitted to book an appointment. If the visitor is not included on the form, they will not be able to visit. No exceptions. Inmates can identify up to four (4) family members and two (2) friends. You can make changes to the form by completing an Inmate Visits Authorization Form, but only once every thirty days.”

The End Immigration Detention Network says, “This is an arbitrary policy that will increase isolation to detainees and the general population at the Central East Correctional Centre. Having a connection to the outside world outside of phone calls is crucial when you’re locked up and they are cutting this off in so many ways.”

The Council of Canadians is opposed to indefinite detention.

We recognize that historically unequal economic relations, resource exploitation, ‘free trade’ agreements and increasingly climate change create the conditions which contribute to the migration of people, and that migrants face unjust treatment and danger crossing militarized borders as they flee these circumstances.

Migrants face further discrimination, racism and hardship as undocumented residents in ‘developed’ countries like Canada that often bear responsibility for the conditions which forced their migration from their home countries.