OTTAWA – Yesterday, New Democrat MP Bill Siksay (Burnaby-Douglas) called for an emergency debate in the House of Commons on the hunger strike by security-certificate detainee Mohammed Mahjoub. Mr. Mahjoub has been detained on a security certificate since 2000, and has never been charged, tried or convicted of a crime in Canada. Unfortunately, the debate was denied by the Speaker of the House.
Mr. Mahjoub, the only person currently in custody at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC), is on day 127 of a hunger strike. He is protesting his lack of access to an independent review of the conditions of his detention at KIHC. He is the only prisoner in Canada without access to such a review by the Correctional Investigator of Canada, the federal prison ombudsperson.
“The Minister of Public Safety knows that hunger strikes of this length are extremely dangerous,” said Siksay. “The serious health issues Mr. Mahjoub may face include renal failure, heart failure, heart arrhythmia, severe hypotension and hypertension, and even death.”
Siksay strongly supports Mr. Mahjoub’s request to extend jurisdiction for the Correctional Investigator and has called on the Minister of Public Safety, Peter Van Loan, to take steps to resolve the situation at KIHC.
“I believe that this matter requires the urgent attention of Parliament. Should Mr. Mahjoub die in custody, never having been found guilty of a crime, it will mark a failure of compassion and due process, and be an affront to civil liberties and human rights. This cannot be tolerated in a country that values fairness and has confidence in its justice system,” concluded Siksay.
Siksay’s letter to the Speaker of the House of Commons requesting an emergency debate is attached.
For more information:
Office of Bill Siksay, 613-996-5597
5 October 2009
The Honourable Peter Milliken, PC MP
Speaker of the House of Commons
222N Centre Block
OTTAWA Ontario K1A 0A6
I am writing to give you notice under Standing Order 52 (2) that I am seeking leave on Monday, 5 October 2009 during routine proceedings to propose an emergency debate on the circumstances surrounding the hunger strike by security certificate detainee Mr. Mohammed Mahjoub.
Mr. Mahjoub is the only person detained at the Kingston Immigration Holding Centre (KIHC) where he is currently on the 126th day of a hunger strike. The key issue in his hunger strike is his hope to secure an independent review of complaints relating to the conditions of his detention at KIHC. Mr. Mahjoub hopes that this review would be carried out by the federal prison ombudsperson, the Correctional Investigator of Canada.
I would draw your attention to the following points as you consider this request:
-There can be serious health issues in a hunger strike of longer than ten days, and after 49 days there is significant risk of renal failure, heart failure, heart arrhythmia, severe hypotension and hypertension. Mr. Mahjoub's hunger strike puts him well beyond these parameters. He is also at an elevated risk due to a pre-existing serious health condition. Hunger strikes of beyond 150 days regularly result in death. I believe that Mr. Mahjoub is now at serious risk of death. As he becomes weaker the possibility of negotiating an end to this situation will decrease.
-As a security certificate detainee Mr. Mahjoub has never been charged, never been tried, and never been convicted of a crime. He has been detained since 2000 using a mechanism that was intended to be used to expedite deportation but is now being used to allow for indefinite detention without charge, trial or conviction. He cannot be deported to his country of origin because there is a well-founded fear he will be tortured or killed.
-As a detainee at KIHC Mr. Mahjoub is the only person held in a federal institution without access to an ombudsperson.
-In the 39th Parliament the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration recommended that those detained at KIHC should have access to the Correctional Investigator of Canada. All members of the Standing Committee supported this recommendation.
-Issues about the effects of solitary confinement are raised given that Mr. Mahjoub is the only prisoner at KIHC. This could also further complicate finding a resolution.
-In recent weeks there has been some indication that the courts have grown impatient with the security certificate process, quashing one certificate and dramatically reducing the house arrest conditions of another detainee.
I believe that this matter requires the urgent attention of Parliament. Should Mr. Mahjoub die in custody never having been found guilty of a crime, it will mark a failure of compassion and due process, and be an affront to civil liberties and human rights-none of which should be tolerated by a country that values fairness and has confidence in its justice system.
Thank you for your consideration of this request.
Bill Siksay MP