Immigration detainees on hunger strike in Ontario, demand meeting with federal Public Safety Minister

The End Immigration Detention Network posted yesterday that, "Over 50 Black and Brown men jailed in immigration detention without trial or charge in Central East Correctional Centre, and Toronto East Detention Centre, maximum security prisons in Ontario, have begun refusing food. They are demanding a meeting with [federal Public Safety] Minister Ralph Goodale to end their indefinite imprisonment and speaking out against worsening prison conditions."

The Canadian Press reports, "A spokesman for Goodale says the minister is working on issues related to detention and hopes to put forward proposals later this year."

That news article adds, "The End Immigration Detention Network says immigration detainees previously went on a hunger strike that began on April 21, and met with officials from Canada Border Services Agency. But the group says CBSA has not followed through on promises it made and the detainees have begun the new hunger strike — this time calling for a meeting with elected officials." Sharmeen Khan of End Immigration Detention Network says, “Goodale must meet with the detainees, and commit to upholding international norms and basic human rights by ending immigration detention."

The Council of Canadians is opposed to immigration detention, particularly indefinite detention. Immigration detention is imprisonment without charges or trial.

At any given time, between 520 and 700 people are in immigration detention 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. That means that in this country, unlike in the United States or European Union or as recommended by the United Nations, detainees awaiting deportation are jailed indefinitely.

Goodale has previously stated that federal authorities are looking into bail and electronic monitoring as an alternative to immigration detention.

The Council of Canadians supports the demands of the End Immigration Detention Network which include:

  • Freedom for the wrongly jailed: release all migrant detainees who have been held for longer than 90 days.
  • End arbitrary and indefinite detention: implement a 90-day 'presumptive period'. If removal cannot happen within 90 days, immigration detainees must be released.
  • 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.
  • Overhaul the adjudication process: give migrants fair and full access to legal aid, bail programs and pro bono representation.

Please CALL (613-947-1153), TWEET (@RalphGoodale) or e-mail (ralph.goodale@parl.gc.ca) to ask Goodale to meet with the detainees.

For more information, go to https://endimmigrationdetention.com/