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Bill C-4, the Preventing Human Smugglers from Abusing Canada’s Immigration System Act, is currently before Parliament. Despite its title, Bill C-4 mostly targets refugees, not smugglers.
Under Bill C-4, refugees, including refugee children, will be mandatorily detained for a year, without possibility of independent review, and denied family reunification and the right to travel abroad for over 5 years.
1. It’s illegal.
Bill C-4 violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. The Supreme Court has recently said that long-term detention without review is contrary to the Charter.
2. It’s inhumane.
Refugees have fled persecution and come to us looking for safety and protection – jailing them is a shocking response. Children, victims of torture and violence, people traumatized by cruel treatment – none of them belong behind bars.
3. It violates our international human rights commitments.
C-4 violates Canada’s obligations under the Refugee Convention (no punishment for illegal entry, right to a travel document) and under the Convention on the Rights of the Child (right to family reunification, obligation to consider the best interests of the child).
4. It won’t work.
Australia already tried to deter arrivals by detaining refugees and denying them family reunification. It didn’t work.
5. It will be very costly.
Detention costs are expensive. So are the long-term social and health costs of jailing traumatized people and keeping refugees separated from their families.
6. It punishes the victims.
Under Bill C-4, refugees will be victimized three times: first by their persecutors, secondly by the smugglers and finally by Canada.
7. It will damage Canada’s international credibility.
If Bill C-4 is adopted, Canada will lack the moral authority to play a leadership role internationally in efforts to find solutions to the problems faced by refugees.
8. It is undermining public support for refugees.
Bill C-4 is being presented in a way that spreads damaging misinformation about refugees (they are absolutely NOT queue-jumpers) and about Canada’s obligations towards refugees (we must protect their basic rights).
9. It ignores the fact that many refugees must use smugglers to save their lives.
Refugees often have no legal way to escape. Many Canadians would not be alive today if they or their parents had not used a smuggler to flee persecution.
10. Refugees have real problems – Bill C-4 does nothing to solve them. It just makes things worse.
Bill C-4 must be defeated or withdrawn. The government should address the problem of smuggling in ways that do not punish refugees.
For more information about Bill C-4, see http://ccrweb.ca/en/c4