Fighting for freedom
Emboldened by a recent Superior Court decision strongly condemning Canada’s practice of indefinite immigration detention, lawyers representing a West African man who has spent nearly four-and-a-half years in maximum-security jail waiting to be deported will demand his release Thursday at a hearing in Etobicoke.
“His ongoing detention is unconstitutional because it’s both arbitrary and indefinite,” said Jared Will, an immigration lawyer who recently took up the case of Ebrahim Toure, a 46-year-old failed refugee claimant who is not charged with a crime but has been in jail since February 2013.
“They say they’re detaining him for removal but they have no means of removing him. There’s no end point to his detention and it’s disconnected from its purpose.”
Toure, who was profiled earlier this year as part of a Star investigation into immigration detention, is the longest-serving immigration detainee in detention. He says he was born in The Gambia and raised partly in Guinea. But he can’t prove his citizenship to either country so neither will take him back. Canada’s border police accuse him of not co-operating with his deportation, but he insists he is willing to be deported and has given them all the information he has.
“Their position is that it’s his lack of co-operation that is the impediment to the removal,” said Will. “But they have nothing concrete to demonstrate that there’s anything that he can actually do to facilitate the deportation.”
Toure’s case is just the latest to draw scrutiny upon Canada’s immigration detention system, which is facing a potential overhaul in light of recent court challenges. Will was the lead lawyer in those cases as well.
Last month he argued in Federal Court that the entire immigration detention regime violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and should be struck down or dramatically altered. A decision is expected sometime this summer.
Will is now threatening to take the government to court if they don’t release Toure.
Meanwhile, the Liberal government is in the midst of a review of immigration detention, having recently wrapped up a public consultation on potential policy changes. Ebrahim Toure is a 46-year-old failed refugee claimant who is not charged with a crime but has been in jail since February 2013.