Toronto, September 21, 2018 — Members of the Gambian Community, migrant rights supporters, and mental health advocates celebrate the release of Ebrahim Toure, Canada’s longest-serving immigration detainee.
Toure, 46, was released on bond on September 21, marking the first time he has felt freedom since he was apprehended, detained without charge, and imprisoned in February 2013.
“It feels good to be out. I just want to go home and sit down.” said Toure. “It’s been six years since I’ve been outside – everything has changed.”
Ebrahim endured unyielding stress and trauma as a result of his cruel and lengthy imprisonment. The United Nations recently reported that ‘open-ended’ and indefinite immigration detention for the purposes of ‘voluntary repatriation’ or ‘acquiring information’ amounts to torture.
At least 17 people have died in immigration detention since 2000, at least five under the current federal government.
“The community is elated that Ebrahim is finally free. However, his situation points out the futility of a system that detains people for immigration purposes regardless of whether that purpose will ever be achieved, said MacDonald Scott, part of Ebrahim’s legal team.
“Ebrahim should not have been detained more than five and a half years to be removed from Canada, no one should be.”
Canada is one of the few countries in the world without a limit on detentions, and a third of all its immigration detainees are imprisoned in maximum security provincial prisons. Immigration detention is imprisonment without trial or charges.
“While we celebrate the release of our friend Ebrahim, we are also disgusted that the federal government took away 5 years of his life, only to release him when they realized there was no basis for holding him, and only because of the dedicated political pressure from Ebrahim’s supporters,” said M. Lee, with No One Is Illegal – Toronto.
“Not one more person, not one more family, not one more community should have to go through what Ebrahim went through. There can be no justice until there is an end to immigration detention and an end to all deportations. We need status for all.”