Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 5 #2, 3 May 2010

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CONTENTS:

  1. Update on Bill C-11 on reforming Canada’s refugee determination system
  2. Government hands over documents relating to Benamar Benatta’s transfer to the US
  3. Call for participation: CCR project on domestic violence
  4. Register now!: CCR Spring Consultation ‘Solidarity and Protection: Our obligations at home and abroad’ 3-5 June 2010, Ottawa
  5. Faces of the CCR: Julie Kahambwe and Sabrina
  6. New from the CCR
    • Refugee Reform: Weighing the proposals
    • From Liberation to Limbo: A report on Eritrean security inadmissibility

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  1. Update on Bill C-11 on reforming Canada’s refugee determination system

On 27 April 2010, the CCR released a joint statement together with Amnesty International Canada and the Refugee Lawyers’ Association of Ontario following the government's refusal to refer Bill C-11 to committee before second reading, and its reported plan to fast-track it to a vote.
The organizations called on all parties to insist on thorough review and extensive public consultations by the House of Commons Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
Concerns about the bill include:

  • Ill-considered haste:  Under Bill C-11 claimants would have an interview 8 days after arrival, and a hearing just 60 days later. These timelines will deny many refugees the opportunity to gather necessary evidence, and will disproportionately affect some of the most vulnerable refugees, including torture survivors and other traumatized applicants, as well as refugees whose claims are based on their sexual orientation.
  • Bar on appeal for selected nationalities or groups of claimants: the creation of a list of countries or groups of claimants denied an appeal on the merits brings political decision-making into what should be an independent and neutral human rights context.  It also imposes a discriminatory bias against refugee claimants from affected countries, in violation of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. Bill C-11 does not even set minimum criteria to determine which countries or groups may be designated. 
  • Denial of humanitarian consideration and pre-removal risk assessments: the proposal to deny access to humanitarian relief, including for children, or to a final assessment of risk prior to deportation violates Canada’s obligations under both the Charter and international treaties, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

The bill passed second reading in the House of Commons on April 29 and has been sent to the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration for study.

The CCR encourages groups who have concerns about the bill and its impacts on refugees to request to be heard by the Standing Committee.  To do this, send an email to the Clerk of the Committee (cimm@parl.gc.ca), describing the organization and mentioning what particular perspective the group would bring (for example, a focus on women, children, claimants in detention, claimants in a smaller centre).
The CCR also encourages groups to endorse this open letter on Bill C-11 and amendments to the refugee determination system: http://ccrweb.ca/en/bill-c-11-open-letter
For information and action ideas, see the CCR’s page on refugee reform at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/en/refugee-reform

For a copy of the legislation, see: http://www2.parl.gc.ca/HousePublications/Publication.aspx?Docid=4393137&file=4

For media articles on the Minister’s announcements and possible reforms to Canada’s refugee determination system, see: http://ccrweb.ca/en/mediarefugeereform

  1. Government hands over documents relating to Benamar Benatta’s transfer to the US

The Canadian government has handed over more than 850 new documents to lawyers representing Benamar Benatta, an Algerian refugee who was illegally handed over to the US on September 12, 2001. 

The government had argued that all relevant documents had been disclosed, but the Ontario Superior Court was sceptical and ordered them to look again (see http://ccrweb.ca/en/opening-window-what-happened-benamar-benatta).

For an article on the new disclosure, see CTV, Court forces release of documents in refugee's lawsuit, 21 April 2010, http://bit.ly/daUIyg

For more media articles about Benamar Benatta, go to http://ccrweb.ca/en/mediabenatta

  1. Call for participation: CCR project on domestic violence

The CCR has launched an initiative on newcomer women and domestic violence in light of the considerable interest expressed at the CCR consultation in Windsor in December 2009. A number of people from across the country have started to research policy and service gaps, as well as existing resources and campaigns. We are fortunate to have the support of Harmy Mendoza, who will be working with the CCR for the next few months to develop this project. 

If you are interested in getting involved in this initiative, or have some suggestions, please contact Marisa at marisa@ccrweb.ca or Harmy at hmendoza@ccrweb.ca

  1. Register now!: CCR Spring Consultation ‘Solidarity and Protection: Our obligations at home and abroad’ 3-5 June 2010, Ottawa

Solidarity and ProtectionFrom 3-5 June 2010, refugee and immigrant rights advocates from across Canada will be gathering in Ottawa for the Canadian Council for Refugees 2010 (CCR) Spring Consultation on the theme Solidarity and Protection: Our obligations at home and abroad

Discussions will address issues that challenge refugees, immigrants, advocates and community workers.

Information about the Consultation and online registration forms are available at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/meetings  Register before 14 May for reduced fees!

  1. Faces of the CCR: Julie Kahambwe and Sabrina

Sabrina and JulieThe publication by the CCR last fall of a report on the long delays in processing at the Nairobi visa office drew attention to many painful stories, one of which recently had a happy conclusion.

The CCR was introduced to Julie Kahambwe, from Congo, when she contacted a Montreal journalist who had written an article inspired by the CCR report.  Julie had been separated from three of her children for five years.  The long separation was particularly difficult because Julie’s daughter, Sabrina, was suffering from an undiagnosed illness.

The CCR helped to see the applications for Julie’s three children expedited through Nairobi, and Yannick, Sabrina and Cédric were reunited with their mother, Julie, in March.  At the CCR office, we were thrilled to meet Sabrina in person a couple of weeks ago. 

Sabrina, now 15, wants to thank everyone who helped to bring her family together. She also had another request: ‘I want also for the government to make an effort so that children like us who wish to come here don’t have to suffer as we suffered.’

Join the CCR in calling on the government to ensure effective solutions are implemented for all families who are separated by long delays in processing applications.  Write to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration.  Highlight a case delayed at Nairobi, like Sabrina’s, to illustrate the concrete human impacts.

For more information about delays at the Nairobi visa office and a model letter, see http://ccrweb.ca/en/nairobi-protection-delayed-action

For the first article about the family, see La Presse, L'insupportable attente, Agnès Gruda, 21 November 2009, http://bit.ly/6gPhn7

For the article about the family reunion, see La Presse, Une famille congolaise réunie au Canada après 5 ans d'attente, Agnès Gruda, 17 March 2010, http://bit.ly/bM5pyC

To read CCR’s report Nairobi: Protection Delayed, Protection denied, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/Nairobireport.pdf

  1. New from the CCR
    • Refugee Reform: Weighing the proposals

If approved, Bill C-11 would make important changes to Canada’s refugee determination system.  Everyone agrees that there are problems in the current system. Everyone agrees that the goal is a system that fairly and quickly determines who needs refugee protection.  How far do the proposals meet that goal? 

The Canadian Council for Refugees believes that there are some positive elements in the bill, but also several serious flaws that would put refugees, particularly the most vulnerable, at risk of being deported to persecution.  Some provisions might also make the system more inefficient.

The CCR urges Parliamentarians to address the bill’s shortcomings and has highlights key concerns in Refugee Reform: Weighing the proposals.

You’ll find Refugee Reform: Weighing the proposals and other information and action on Bill C-11 at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/en/refugee-reform

    • From Liberation to Limbo: Report on Inadmissibility Provisions in Canada

A new report, From Liberation to Limbo, A Report on the Impact of Immigration Security Inadmissibility Provisions on the Eritrean Communities in Canada, addresses the application of security inadmissibility provisions in Canada’s immigration legislation to Eritrean nationals.

Many Eritreans are found inadmissible to Canada for the sole reason of having supported Eritrea’s liberation from Ethiopia. The inadmissibility findings lead to threats of forced returns to persecution in Eritrea, families torn apart, and refugees both inside and outside Canada living in long-term limbo.

The report has been endorsed by the Canadian Council for Refugees, Eritrean Canadian Community Centre of Metropolitan Toronto (ECCC), Hidmona-Eritrean Human Rights Group in Manitoba, Holy Trinity Eritrean Orthodox Church in Toronto, Meftih Eritrea Community Newspaper and Qalna Eritrean Human Rights Group-Toronto.

The report is available at: http://ccrweb.ca/sites/ccrweb.ca/files/From_Liberation_to_Limbo.pdf

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