Peterborough, Toronto, Guelph: High school aged youth from Peterborough and Toronto are changing the way they celebrate Family Day (February 16) this year, rallying outside a maximum security prison in Lindsay, Ontario. The group, members of Youth 4 Global Change and End Immigration Detention Network Youth Committee hope to raise awareness of family separation and endless jailing of immigrants including children without charges or trial. Siblings, parents, friends and grandparents of the youth group, as well as family members of many of the men imprisoned by immigration enforcement will be raising signs and making music outside the prison walls.
WHAT: REUNITE – Families for Families in Detention Rally
WHEN: Family Day – February 16, 4:15 p.m.
WHERE: Central East Correctional Centre, Lindsay, ON (Toronto: Christie Pits Park at bus pick up point at 2 p.m.)
WHO: Children, high-school youth, parents and grandparents, family members of immigrant detainees.
The detainees and their supporters are calling for an end to maximum security detention in provincial jails for migrants; a limit of 90 days that migrants can be held in detention pending deportation as per international best practices and; overhaul of the detention review process. Immigration detainees have been organizing protest actions since September 2013.
Immigration detention must be policy of last resort as per international agreements and a recent Opinion issued by United Nation High Commissioner for Human Rights’ Working Groups on Arbitrary Detention Canada has signed. However, over 100,000 people have been detained by immigration enforcement under Stephen Harper. A third of these detainees are held in maximum-security prisons, without access to their families, or legal support. A recent Red Cross report stated that the Red Cross has not been able to investigate immigration imprisonment conditions in Ontario.
Currently, at least 146 of these migrants have been jailed for over six months – Canada cannot deport them for various reasons but will not release them. Their detention is indefinite. In 2013, nearly 205 children were listed as detained by Canadian immigration enforcement. The actual number of children in prison is much higher as citizen children are not counted. A recent investigation found that at least 11 people have died in immigration enforcement custody in the last decade.