with No Comments

By: Immigration Reporter, Published on Mon Mar 14, 2016

Another imDebra Blackmigration detainee has died in the care of Canada Border Services Agency – the second in under a week, bringing the total number of deaths since 2000 to 14.

An immigration detainee under the care of the Canada Border Services Agency was found dead in his cell in Maplehurst Correctional Complex in Milton on Sunday. It was the second death of an immigration detainee in under a week.

A second immigration detainee has died in the care of Canada Border Services Agency in less than a week, CBSA confirmed.

Sources have identified the detainee as Francisco Javier Romero Astorga. He died suddenly early Sunday at Maplehurst Correctional Complex, in Milton. He was found in his cell with no vital signs, according to a source.

Astorga, originally from Chile, had been deported from Canada previously and returned here last November, the source said.

This is the 14th death of an immigration detainee in CBSA care since 2000.

Last Monday, a 64-year-old Burundi man — Melkioro Gahungu — who came to Canada in 2008, hanged himself at the Toronto East Detention Centre.

His death triggered a renewed cry for more oversight and transparency of the CBSA.

In announcing Gahungu’s death, the CBSA cloaked the matter in secrecy, refusing to identify the detainee or release any information on the circumstances of his death, pending their investigation.

“It is time for something to be done about the glaring oversight gap when it comes to immigration detention in Canada,” Alex Neve, secretary general of Amnesty International, Canada, said in the wake of Gahungu’s apparent suicide. “It is unconscionable that immigration detainees can die in custody.”

Similarly, the CBSA has said little about Astorga’s death. After the Star sent an email query to CBSA asking the agency to confirm his identity and discuss the circumstances of the death, it released a short news release which confirmed only that a death had occurred.

“The individual’s identity will not be released at this time,” the news release said. “The CBSA will be reviewing the circumstances of the death. The CBSA is not in a position to release further information while the investigation is ongoing.”

The CBSA also said the family of the deceased has been notified.

Halton Regional Police is also probing the death. “The investigation is in its infancy,” said spokesperson Sgt. Andy Dennis.

On the surface “nothing appears suspicious” in the death, he said. The post-mortem did not reveal anything out of the ordinary, he added. But toxicology samples have been sent for further testing. Those samples could take up to two weeks to analyze.


Debra Black

Debra Black is a senior reporter at the Toronto Star who covers immigration and diversity issues. Reach her at 416-869-4850.