A man who has identified himself as a Gambian, Ebrahim Toure, has been locked since February 2013 in a Canadian jail despite not facing any criminal charges, the Toronto Star reported yesterday.
Toure, who told the leading Canadian newspaper that his detention is indefinite and arbitrary, argued in the Ontario Superior Court on Tuesday that his ongoing detention violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms in his host country.
Toure failed a refugee claimant, spent four-and-a-half years in a maximum security jail because the government has been unable to deport him.
Toure is arguing that his detention is indefinite and arbitrary because there is no reasonable prospect he will be deported in the “foreseeable” future.
The 46-year-old, who was profiled earlier this year as part of a Star investigation into Canada’s immigration detention system, said he is not trying to stay in Canada and is willing to be deported.
He said he was born in The Gambia and grew up partly in Guinea, but has no identity documents. He can’t prove his citizenship to either country, so neither will issue him a passport or agree to take him back.
Immigration officials, meanwhile, accuse Toure — who used multiple aliases while working illegally in the US in the early 2000s and previously insisted he was “100 per cent” from Guinea — of deceiving them and intentionally thwarting his removal.
They believe his name is Bakaba Touray and that he is withholding information that would allow them to deport him. He ssaid he has given them all the information he has.
Toure is the latest immigration detainee to take the government to court on a habeas corpus application — a long-enshrined legal recourse that allows anyone held by the state to contest the lawfulness of their detention.
Toure, who is being held solely as a flight risk and is not considered a danger to the public, is now the longest-serving immigration detainee.
On Tuesday, the first day of a scheduled two-day hearing, the small courtroom was filled to capacity with supporters from Toronto’s West African communities, as well as members of the End Immigration Detention Network.
Dozens of people were forced to wait in the hallway until the proceedings were moved to a larger courtroom in the afternoon.