News & Events
Second immigration detainee dies in prison in less than 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 in 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.