Statement from Muhammed Sillah: Exposing Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) Immigration Detention #JusticeforSillah
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Statement from Muhammed Sillah
This holding centre for immigrants, refugees and immigrant children which is situation on Rexdale is commonly known to the detainees as the “Indian Holding Centre” because the guards are mostly India, very rampant among the rest of the guards and are causing depression among detainees. This holding centre is managed by G4S security guards who are rampant and abusive in their service and I am among others who are frequently abused when searched but we are to adhere to these guards at all times or else. We are constantly threatened to be obedient to these guards and if we dare fail to adhere to them, we would be transferred to jail where criminals are kept. These guards are cocky in their jobs and do not listen to the demands of detainees at all.
They walk in and out of the rooms of detainees even when they change clothing or during prayer times where there is a need for respect of privacy. They never speak but yell at detainees anytime there is contact between us. They bang at doors and repeatedly yell at a time for anything like waking up time, breakfast time, lunch time, and dinner time. These guards are supervised limitedly or with no supervision from CBSA officials. They create for them rules that favour their mood. CBSA do have guidelines for these security personnel but their job is not supervised to ensure that the rights of the detainees are upheld within the premises at all times. It’s is well known to detainees that every security guard and supervisor have their own regulation which is causing mixed feelings, high blood pressure and confusion among detainees. Detainees expect to be treated with dignity and respect but should that be in any practice, there will never be more frustration of detainees who are already frustrated by the unlawful detention by CBSA who are as hungry as ever to remove immigrants without proper assessment in result to the reforms of Mr. Kenney. Some detainees are released before the usual 48 hour detention review upon arrest and having paid very high release bonds and performance bonds three times more than the release bond because there’s reasonable belief that their arrest and detention was unlawful. Detainees are typically handled as criminals and this include the transfer or immigrant and refugees places outside this center like hospitals where there is a violation of their rights where shackles are place on the feet of detainees. Detainees who require emergency medical attention are transferred with shackles on them hereby causing quite the criminal attention and impression on them from the public. There is a very useless medical practitioner at this facility and every detainee refers to them as Tylenol doctors. These Tylenol doctors do treat people but 90% of the time would recommend Tylenol only to all sick detainees even though there is medical insurance entitled to detainees they are sometimes advised to order their own medication: medication from families and friends outside of the facility. The refugee boards stands to protect the rights of privileges of detainees which the CBSA must also abide by but the refugee protection act is clearly abused by CBSA when detainees are re-arrest when there is a bond still in affect under their name without any violation to it and there is no removal order against them. Since there will be no job for the G4s security personnel if there is no arrest of immigration violators, the CBSA and refugee board seem to work uniquely to further lengthen the period of detention. I personally was informed by a judge on my 48 hour detention review that I will not be released because my detention was not lengthy enough. There is a need to keep detainees at this facility even if there is no reasonable reason to furthering their detention.
This also includes the unjustifiable rejection of bonds persons who are either suspected of not knowing enough about a detainee’s case which is not a ruling in the immigration and protection act. The act sates that a bondsperson must not be a convict, that bondsperson cannot place if there is a bond in default and that the bond they place must be entirely theirs. There is a need for counsel to represent detainees at detention reviews even though detainees are able to represent themselves. This holding is a safe haven for lawyers and consultants who are collecting funds from helpless immigrants and refugee seekers who are disappointed by misrepresentation and/or not showing up at detention reviews by counsel. There are hundreds and thousands of dollars collected by lawyers and consultants who demand huge funding for the review representation of their client with fake assurance of release from the facility. Immigration lawyers are magnets to this facility because it is comprised of desperate detainees who are keenly in need of their help to be saved from being removed from Canada and being protected from the dangers that await them in their countries. Life in this holding centre is not close to what life is expected in here. Detainees are pressurized by different factors and it is very unfortunate that no one sees or hears them out.
There is a great deal of attention that is needed to assist refugees and immigrants and it appears that the Toronto Refugee Affairs Council helps but they mostly help those that are more likely to win their case with little to no struggle. Should there be a complexity of any sort in a refugee case the counsel is most likely not representing them and they would advise to appear to be removed to seek other chances to re-enter Canada or send for a spousal sponsorship from outside Canada. There is really not help available to immigrants and refugees when they reach the Indian Holding Centre. The disrespect received from guards, the unlawful arrest by CBSA, the irresponsible medical attention, the negligence to release detainees in the refugee board detention reviews, plus the lawyers grabbing money and running all accumulate to the forever damage and depression of immigrants and refugees upon leaving Canada.
They are forcefully removed from Canada with an image of Canada and they are prepared to show others at home and it’s never an attractive image. The image portrayed by these vulnerable immigrants about Canada when removed is not attractive and is a refugee for outsiders to have bad blood for Canada.
About Muhammed Sillah
Muhammed came to Canada in 2006. The conditions of the Gambia severely worsened while Muhammed was in Canada and in October 2011, he filed an application for protection without being able to afford the tremendous legal fees and therefore the application failed on a small technicality.
Muhammed has an online group called “Gambian Green Party” (formerly “Concerned Citizens”) where he outlines his projected improvements to government and ideas for sustainable development for the country. He also explains quite clearly how the current government is failing Gambians. He has posted his discontent with the illegal, horrendous crimes of the Gambian government in a group called WA Banjul Open (WA= People of), he has also been very active in conversation and debate within the HelloGambia.com newscast, in opposition to the government. This newscast is owned by a former Gambian Ambassador who submitted an affidavit to the Federal Court just prior to Muhammed’s removal outlining who Muhammed is and the threat to his life if he returns to the Gambia.
Muhammed has been reporting to both CBSA and the Toronto Bail Program (no criminal record), since October 2011 when he filed for protection. He has complied 100% with any appointments/requirements put on him on a weekly/monthly basis, which was to also attend a meeting with CBSA on May 29th, 2013 with his wife. In the meeting the officer explained a program to give Muhammed $2,000 to blend back into the Gambian society, and Muhammed refused because his life is not equivalent to any compensation from the Canadian government. The officer asked Muhammed and his wife to “wait a minute” while the officer “went to get the form for Muhammed to sign to pull out of the program”, when she returned, she asked Muhammed and his wife to meet her in room 7, where two CBSA officers closed the door behind them and asked Muhammed to face the wall while they frisked him, then to put his hands behind his back, and at that point arrested him. The reason given was because his status has “run out”.
Therefore multiple protests were organized and an emergency stop motion was submitted to stop Muhammed’s removal. After an hour hearing with the Federal Court on his day of removal, the Federal Court knew that the “balance of convenience lies in the favour of Muhammed and that he has a genuine fear for his life and safety” so they stopped his deportation to re-file for protection, although he was already taken to the airport and waiting to be forced to board! He is still in detention and we are demanding his release to stop this continued oppression, to stop the power hungry officers and their racial slurs, to raise awareness on the treatment of detainees in Canada, and to shed light on what an injustice this has been for Muhammed and to make known what is happening in The Gambia so that one day, he can return to his beloved home soil with his wife.
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