June 15, 2016
Toronto — Over 85 immigration detainees in Ontario’s Central East Correctional Centre (CECC) in Lindsay are calling on MPP David Orazietti, Ontario’s new Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services to end their detention in maximum security prisons. This call comes on the heels of open letters by 146 doctors, nurses and social workers and 109 lawyers demanding an end to theprovince’s deal with Ottawa that allows the jailing of immigration detainees in provincial prisons. Immigration detention is imprisonment without charges or trial.
Ebrahim Toure, forty-five, from Guinea who has been detained for three years and seven months at CECC without cause says, “Everyone in here has mental health problems. Once a month a psychiatrist comes to talk to you, and they only give you a sleeping pill. This is not helping my mental health, it’s making me sleep, that’s it. We don’t want to sleep, we want to be healthy. We are refugees being treated like bad people and nothing ever changes. Immigration detention needs to stop now.”
One-third of all immigration detainees in Canada are held in Ontario provincial prisons, which are designed and operated for people facing criminal charges or serving criminal sentences. Immigration detainees are held here even though immigration is a federal administrative matter and immigration detainees are not serving sentences. Of the 15 known deaths in Canada Border Services Agency’s (CBSA) care, at least 8 were being held in Ontario provincial prisons. Two of these people, Francisco Romero Astorga and Melkioro Gahungu, died in the same week in March of this year.
“Immigration detainees, doctors, lawyers and community organizations are all calling for the same thing – an end to maximum security imprisonment in Ontario prisons,” says Karin Baqi of End Immigration Detention Network. “When will Ontario do the right thing and stop doing immigration enforcement’s dirty work? They can’t keep people alive, so they shouldn’t be jailing them.”
“I hope that this call is the last call needed to finally put an end to all detentions,” adds AB, forty, who has been in Canada since 1992 and been in detention since August 2015. “I have schizophrenia and am bipolar and am living proof that maximum security imprisonment causes further mental health detriment. Since I’ve been detained, and with the lock-downs in Lindsay I’ve had mental health problems. I’ve been seeing stuff, hearing stuff, and I’m going through depression because of the uncertainty of not knowing when I’m gonna get out and if I go back to Jamaica how am I going to be treated based on my sexual orientation.”
A secretive contract between Ontario and Canada released by the End Immigration Detention Networkshows that Ontario directly profits from these detentions, getting paid 20% more than the actual cost of jailing detainees.
Immigration detainees at Central East Correctional Centre have been calling for a 90 day limit on detentions, an overhaul of the judicial review process and an end to maximum security imprisonment since September 2013.
Media contact: Karin Baqi, 647-402-4048, End Immigration Detention Network
For more information see also the End Immigration Detention Network website: EIDN