Demand Monthly Contact Visits for Canada's Secret Trial Detainees:
Mohammad Mahjoub has been able to hug his 2 young children only once in 5 years.
Mahmoud Jaballah has six children he is not allowed to kiss or hug.
Write or call Ontario's Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services, Monte Kwinter (see address below), and tell him "Let the children and wives of Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohammad Mahjoub hug their dads and husbands."
WHAT'S GOING ON?
Imagine being locked up for years without charge or bail, held on secret evidence, unable to touch, hug or kiss your loved ones. The effect on you is devastating; the effect on your husband or wife and, especially, your young children, is beyond description.
Add to this the daily existence of solitary confinement and the threat of deportation to torture, and you have the makings of real, sustained, psychological and emotional torture, both for the detainees and their families.
FEDERAL DETAINEES IN PROVINCIAL DETENTION CENTRES
This is the reality for Canada's secret trial detainees and their families. Although the men are federal detainees, they are held in provincial institutions not designed for long-term incarceration.
There is no programming, there are no facilities for educational opportunities, there is no library, there is no access to radio or TV for those in solitary, the "outdoor fresh air" facility is a 30 X 40 foot enclosed concrete box (no grass, no trees), the food is pre-packaged, processed, and not enough to ward off hunger pangs.
In essence, these men, never charged or convicted of any crime, do not have the same rights as people convicted and sentenced to a federal penitentiary, especially with respect to contact visits. (While we support the fact that those who HAVE been convicted and sentenced should certainly have these rights, we believe these rights need to be extended to federal detainees held without charge on secret evidence! Better yet, obviously, just release them on bail!!!)
While we believe the secret trial detainees should have the right to be free on bail, the process to achieve such relative freedom is a lengthy one as they fight deportation to torture.
In the meantime, they are struggling to live with as much dignity and humanity as they can in an institutional setting which offers little of either.
WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW?
After numerous attempts at asking for and being denied such visits, two of the detainees, Egyptian refugees Mohammad Mahjoub (currently in solitary confinement for over a year) and Mahmoud Jaballah, are both appealing to the Canadian public to pressure the government of Ontario and, specifically, the Minister of Community Safety & Correctional Services, Monte Kwinter, to allow such visits in their cases.
In writing to the minister, make note of the following:
The Metro West Detention Centre in Toronto certainly has the space for such visits (and when lawyers visit clients, there are no physical barriers between them--so why not the same for these two families?).
This is an extraordinary situation, given that Mahjoub has been held since June 2000 and Jaballah since August 2001, both without charges.
Secret trial detainee Adil Charkaoui was allowed touch visits with his family while detained almost two years in Quebec.
Both Mr. Mahjoub and Mr. Jaballah have authorized the ministry to publicly address their situation and that "privacy concerns" cannot be used as an excuse by Mr. Kwinter not to deal directly with our concerns.
These men are not asking for much--one hour a month under these circumstances will do a world of good for the men and their families, and could hardly throw a major detention centre into a logistical frenzy (especially when federal inmates are allowed family visits of up to 72 hours every two months)
There is no legal, security, or other reason for this not to be allowed, especially given the extraordinary nature of their situation.
Finally, it may be worth noting that:
Lucie McClung, Commissioner of Corrections Canada, has issued directives which are very specific about family visits:
"8. To the greatest extent possible, visits shall be provided in a friendly and relaxed environment, without physical barrier between inmate and visitor.
9. Eligible inmates shall be offered the opportunity to participate in private family visiting. Private family visiting is intended to support the development and delivery of family programs in the institution and to provide inmates with the opportunity to use separate facilities where they may meet privately with their family to renew or continue personal relationships.
23. All inmates are eligible for private family visiting
24. Persons eligible to participate in private family visiting shall include spouse, common-law partner, children, parents, foster parents, siblings, grandparents, and persons with whom, in the opinion of the Institutional Head, the inmate has a close familial bond, provided they are not inmates. Inmates are not eligible to participate in private family visits with other inmates."
*****Directive #770 also states inmates are allowed family visits of up to 72 hours every two months
1. Write letters to and call:
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
18th floor, 25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, ON, M7A 1Y6
Phone: (416) 325-0408
Fax: (416) 325-6067
PLEASE CC correspondence to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax (416) 651-9770 or by mail to PO Box 73620, 509 St. Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0
Also let us know by email what your response has been like. We want to keep a tally of who is in contact to get a sense of how much pressure they are under!
Any correspondence ultimately reflects on the men and their families, so please approach the minister and/or his staff with polite firmness in the demand for this basic human right.
2. Write to or contact the jail's suprintendent:
Paul Greer, Superintendent
Metro West Detention Centre
111 Disco Road
Rexdale, ON M9W 5L6
(416) 675-1806 ext. 4211
Fax: (416) 674-4186
If you speak with Mr. Greer or an assistant to him, please approach him in a respectful manner and say something to the effect, "I am calling to support the right of a monthly contact visit for the families of Mr. Mahjoub and Mr. Jaballah. Thank you!" Feel free to leave your name and number.
3. Call your MPP and ask that this human rights issue be raised in the Ontario legislature (because the men are held in a provincial institution)
4. Write to the detainees to support their right to touch visits with their families. Both Mahmoud Jaballah and Mohammad Mahjoub can be sent cards and letters of support to:
Metro West Detention Centre
111 Disco Road
Rexdale, ON M9W 5L6
5. Contribute to the Esperanza Fund to meet the needs of the children of the families. To do so, make a cheque out to Homes not Bombs and mail it to PO Box 73620, 509 St Clair Ave. West, Toronto, ON M6C 1C0 (note it is for the Esperanza Fund). Donatons over $75 are eligible for a tax receipt, but to get a tax receipt, contact us first for the details (at email@example.com)
6. If you are in Toronto, be sure to attend our Friday, April 22 free event on ending secret trials and deportation to torture at 7:15 pm at Bloor Street United Curch, featuring Moni Elfouli (whose husband is Mohammad Mahjoub), Monia Mazigh (whose husband is Maher Arar), and Ahmad Jaballah (whose father is Mahmoud Jaballah).
7. Join the June 8-9 "24 Hours Against Torture" Vigil in Toronto at Minister of Deportation Joe Volpe's office.
This human rights appeal brought to you by the Campaign to Stop Secret Trials in Canada, (416) 651-5800, firstname.lastname@example.org, www.homesnotbombs.ca
Free the Five in 2005!
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