Fight­ing for free­dom

Metro Canada (Toronto) - - CANADA/WORLD -

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.


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