The Black Legal Action Centre (BLAC) is a not-for-profit corporation incorporated under the laws of Ontario to combat individual and systemic anti-Black racism by providing legal services to members of Ontario’s diverse Black communities.
We are writing this Open Letter to you to voice our support for the migrants in detention, who were on hunger strike for eight days at the Laval Immigration Holding Centre. These migrants, many of whom are people of African descent, face serious health risks related to the COVID-19 virus and we support their demand for the immediate release of all migrant detainees as part of public health recommendations to socially distance from others. Human rights and medical organizations have noted that social distancing is not possible for incarcerated populations, including detainees, and that during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, detention poses a catastrophic risk to the health of these populations. It is unconscionable that detainees – many of whom have pre-existing health conditions – were forced to go on hunger strike for eight days in order to access the basic protections being recommended to the general public.