Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 4 #10, 8 February 2010

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CONTENTS:

  1. CCR urges Special Measures for Haiti
  2. Németh: Supreme Court hears case on the extradition of a refugee
  3. CCR withdraws from temporary suspension of removals process
  4. Participate in the CCR Winter Working Group Meetings, 26-27 February, Toronto
  5. Faces of the CCR: Pia Zambelli, Co-Chair of CCR’s Legal Affairs Committee
  6. New from the CCR
    • Backgrounder: Special measures for Haiti
    • Report of Fall 2009 Consultation, December 2009, Windsor
    • Report of National Forum on Trafficking, December 2009, Windsor

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  1. CCR urges Special Measures for Haiti

On 15 January, the CCR expressed its deep distress at the catastrophe in Haiti and offered its sympathies to all people of Haitian origin in Canada, many of whom arrived here as refugees.
The CCR is pleased that the Canadian government is considering a special immigration response and urges them to ensure that the measures are sufficiently flexible, expedited and generous to respond to the needs.
The CCR is conscious of the following needs, among others:

  • Family reunification files currently being processed and which need to be expedited (average processing times at Port-au-Prince for family reunification for refugees is 15 months).
  • The many Haitians who have been in Canada for years, but are still without permanent residence.  The existing moratorium protects them from deportation, but without permanent residence they have no access to family reunification, nor many other rights and benefits.
  • Haitian refugee claimants who are impatiently waiting a hearing.
  • Haitians who wish to sponsor family members but who can’t do so because the rules are so restrictive.

For more information:

Backgrounder: Special immigration measures for Haiti, http://ccrweb.ca/en/immigration-measures-haiti

  1. Németh: Supreme Court hears case on the extradition of a refugee

On 13 January the Supreme Court heard arguments in Németh, a case involving a refugee who faces extradition from Canada to the country that he fled.
 
As an intervener, the CCR, had an opportunity to make oral arguments.  Represented by John Norris and Brydie Bethell, the CCR took the position that if a person subject to extradition faces a risk of persecution, it is necessary to respect the principle of non-refoulement.

Németh was heard along with Gavrila, another case that also concerns the extradition of a refugee.

The Supreme Court’s decision is expected to come in a few months.

  1. CCR withdraws from temporary suspension of removals process

The CCR has informed the Canada Border Services Agency that it is withdrawing from the formal process to review countries affected by the temporary suspension of removals (commonly known as moratoria).  The CCR has reached the conclusion that our submissions, which are time-consuming to produce, currently play little or no role in the decision-making process, which seems to be essentially political.

The CCR is also concerned that, in announcing the lifting of moratoria, CBSA referred to our participation in the process, thereby using our name to give credibility to a process about which we have grave concerns.

A key indication of the inadequacy of the process is the failure to impose any new suspensions since 2004.  It is hard to imagine many situations more obviously deserving a temporary suspension of removals than Somalia, a country suffering an ongoing and acute political and humanitarian crisis.  The CCR presented a submission in 2008 recommending the suspension of removals to Somalia, but never even received a response.

The text of the CCR’s letter to CBSA is available at: http://ccrweb.ca/en/letter-withdrawal-temporary-suspensions-removal

  1. Participate in the CCR Winter Working Group Meetings, 26-27 February, Toronto

Do you want to be part of efforts to promote rights for refugees? 

Want to participate in in-depth discussions on pressing issues affecting refugees and immigrants in Canada? 

Looking for an opportunity to share information and strategies with others from across Canada?

Come to the CCR Winter Working Group meetings in Toronto!

The CCR Winter Working Group meetings will be held in Toronto on 26 and 27 February 2009.  All CCR members are encouraged to attend the Working Group meetings, which are also open to others interested.  The meetings are closed to media and government.

The meeting schedule is:

- FRIDAY 26 FEBRUARY: 9:30am - 5pm
Overseas Protection and Sponsorship Working Group meeting and
Immigration and Settlement Working Group meeting

- SATURDAY 27 FEBRUARY: 9:30am - 5pm
Inland Protection Working Group meeting

Location: Our Lady of Lourdes Church, 520 Sherbourne Street, Toronto

For more information, check out the CCR ‘Meetings’ webpage at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm or consult this flyer (and share it with others!): http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/WGsEN.pdf

  1. Faces of the CCR: Pia Zambelli, Co-Chair of CCR’s Legal Affairs Committee

Pia ZambelliThis month we interviewed Pia Zambelli, Co-Chair of the CCR’s Legal Affairs Committee, to find out more about the little-known, yet important work that this group contributes to the CCR.

CCR: What do you do? 

PZ: I am an immigration lawyer.   I represent refugee claimants seeking judicial review before the Federal Court.  I have practiced in both Toronto and Montreal.

CCR: How and why did you first become involved in the CCR? 

PZ: As a refugee lawyer I was always well aware of the work of the CCR, even when I was practicing in Toronto. But it was a few years ago that I decided that, given that I was only practicing part time because of my children,  I would begin to actually get involved.  I felt that this was another way that I could advance the cause of refugees in Canada.

CCR: What does the CCR Legal Affairs Committee do? What role does it play in the overall work of the CCR? 

PZ: The Legal Affairs Committee deals with ways of  advancing the CCR’s agenda using the legal system.  Specifically, the committee identifies legal issues of interest to the CCR’s constituency and participates in legal proceedings by bringing a court action in its own name (for example, the challenge to the Safe Third Country Agreement), applying for intervener status in pre-existing court cases or providing support to lawyers raising various issues of interest before the courts.    CCR’s work with respect to court challenges plays an important role because sometimes legal action is the most efficient way to change things for the better. 

CCR: How does the Legal Affairs Committee decide whether to get involved in a case? 

PZ: Essentially, we see if the case relates to areas of concern to the CCR’s constituency and if our participation would be possible and beneficial.   Our current thinking is that it is usually only feasible to seek intervener status at the point when the case reaches the Supreme Court of Canada level, but there are exceptions. At lower levels Committee members will usually do other things, such as offer support to counsel by providing advice and assistance with documentation and research needs.

CCR: What are some of the issues that the Committee is focusing on at present?

PZ: The Committee is still committed to doing something about the Safe Third Country Agreement which negatively impacts refugees.  Also we are looking into the question of the right to counsel at the port of entry. We are also seeking intervener’s status in a case involving the humanitarian and compassionate relief process.

CCR: Could you tell us about the Németh case?

The Németh case was one where the CCR was granted intervener status before the Supreme Court of Canada.  The case involved the extradition of a recognized Convention refugee who was a Roma and feared persecution in his home country. The case raised the issue of what role the prohibition against refoulement should play in the extradition process.  The case was argued at the Supreme Court on January 13th and CCR’s arguments were well-received.

CCR: Is there anything else that our readers should know? 

PZ: Yes, I would like to say that the Legal Affairs Committee relies on, recognizes and greatly appreciates the cooperation of the Canadian legal community which has proven itself to be very willing to freely give of its time and expertise to assist the CCR in its work.

  1. New from the CCR
    • Backgrounder: Special measures for Haiti

In response to the catastrophe in Haiti, the CCR has been urging the government to take special immigration measures, with respect to family reunification and Haitians in Canada without permanent status.  The backgrounder highlights key issues and recommendations to share with politicians and members of the general public to ensure that urgent needs are met.

For the webpage see: http://ccrweb.ca/en/immigration-measures-haiti

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