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Jailed immigrants begin historic boycott of Detention Reviews
June 2, 2014Ground-breaking expose on Canadian immigration detention to be released 10am, June 9th, 720 Spadina Avenue, Toronto. A protest is scheduled at the National Headquarters of Immigration Enforcement in Ottawa on June 15th.
Ontario -- Immigration detainees at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Central North Correctional Centre in Penetanguishene and Torontos Metro West Detention Centre are starting a historical month-long boycott of their detention reviews today insisting that the process is biased, unfair and stacked against them.
Detention Reviews (DR) are the centerpiece of the immigration detention system. They are a unique bail-like process that takes places 48 hours, 7 days, and then every 30 days after arrest. Detainees plead their case in front of an appointed 'member' who single-handedly decides on their release or terms and conditions.
A.K. an immigration detainee who boycotted his DR this morning, usually done via video conferencing, says Every time I go there its like they have already made up their minds before we even start the session. It doesn't matter what I say, I am there only for a few minutes before they state that I a flight risk and to come back in 30 days. Ive been in front of them 12 times and nothing is changing and I am tired of it.
My clients feel that the detention review system is rigged against them added Immigration Consultant Macdonald Scott whose clients are boycotting their DRs. sThey are simply refusing to participate in a system that they believe is fundamentally unjust.:
The immigration detention systems entire claim to fairness is based on the DR system. If the DR is unfair, the whole system is unfair. explains End Immigration Detention Network Member Emelina Ramos. The DR is the only way that detainees can get out of prison, imagine how frustrated immigrants are in this labyrinthine system that they are just boycotting it.
Another detainee, S.M who will be boycotting his detention review on Tuesday added, They pretend like I just came from the airport yesterday but Ive been in this country for 23 years and thats not right to treat someone like that. I dont have a country to go back to, and I grew up here and theyre holding me because I dont have any money to get out.
Canada is one of the few countries in the west not to have a limit on detention pending deportation, commonly known as a presumptive period. Canadian officials insist that immigrants are only jailed for 30 days at a time, the length of time between the detention reviews.
Over 9,000 people were held by immigration detention in 2013, over a third of them in maximum security prisons. The exact number of migrants jailed for over 90 days, the presumptive period migrants and advocates are demanding, is unknown. Michael Mvogo has been jailed for seven years and a detainee who could be Mbuyisa Makhubu, has been detained for 10 years.
191 detainees in Lindsays maximum security Central East Correctional Centre began hunger strikes, and a non-cooperation protest last September, with two detainees on hunger strike for 65 days. The ongoing #MigrantStrike calls for an end to unlimited jail terms and changes to the detention review process.
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