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End Immigration Detention Network group accuses Canada Border Services Agency of lack of transparency

Secrecy shrouds death of ‘agitated’ man in Canadian immigration custody

COLIN PERKEL

TORONTO — The Canadian Press

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The group, End Immigration Detention Network, accused Canada Border Services Agency of a lack transparency and decried its use of prisons to hold people not charged with any crime.

“CBSA is clearly unwilling to act on the death and misery caused by immigration detention,” the network’s Syed Hussan said in a statement. “It needs to end.”

In a brief news release late Thursday, the border agency announced the man’s death in hospital in Peterborough, Ont.

“The Canada Border Services Agency was notified by the Peterborough General Hospital that an adult male detainee, who was receiving care, passed away in hospital,” the statement said.

The release, issued about 18 hours after the death, gave no further information about who he was, where he was from or any other circumstances of his detention or death. It did say his family had been notified.

A trickle of details emerged a few hours later when the province’s Special Investigations Unit, which probes reports of death, serious injury or sexual assault involving police, said it was investigating the death.

The unit said the man was 39 years old and was being detained at the Central East Correctional Centre in Lindsay, Ont. He had been admitted to the Peterborough Regional Health Centre for medical reasons under escort from local and provincial police officers, the SIU said.

“At approximately 1 a.m. on Thursday, June 11, 2015, the man became agitated,” the SIU said.

“At the request of medical staff, he was restrained by the officers and by health professionals. Shortly after, the man went vital signs absent and was subsequently pronounced dead.”

On Friday, a spokeswoman for the border agency refused to elaborate beyond confirming the SIU investigation of the death and the fact the coroner’s office had been contacted.

“We are not releasing any further information because the investigation is ongoing,” Antonella Digirolamo said. “That’s all I have for you.”

The SIU was similarly tight-lipped Friday. However, spokeswoman Monica Hudon cited SIU policy of deferring to the family when it came to releasing the names of those who die in custody.

“We let the families decide,” Hudon said. “The family has asked us not to release the name.”

Hudon said she did not know where the family was located.

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