Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 5 #4, 29 July 2010

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CONTENTS:

  1. CCR welcomes opening of door to more privately sponsored refugees
  2. CCR calls for rights of Tamils on boat to be respected
  3. Come to the CCR Summer Working Group meetings, Montreal, 27-28 August 2010
  4. Fill out the CCR Youth Network Campaign Online Survey
  5. Visit CCR’s revised links page and (for CCR members) consult the online membership directory
  6. New from the CCR
    • Report from the CCR Spring Consultation ‘Solidarity and Protection: Our obligations at home and abroad’

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  1. CCR welcomes opening of door to more privately sponsored refugees

In July, the Canadian Council for Refugees welcomed the federal government’s increased commitment to privately-sponsored refugees, by allowing 2,000 more refugees to be resettled by community groups.  As a result, organizations across the country are able to help more refugees find a safe home in Canada.
The government needs to ensure that the process is fair and efficient.  Currently refugees face extremely long processing times at some visa offices.  At Nairobi, the slowest office, privately sponsored refugees wait on average 39 months, often in unsafe and vulnerable situations. These long delays affect many refugees: fully one-third of private sponsorship applications pending at the end of 2009 were at the Nairobi office (5,444 applications out of total of 16,169).  Processing times need to be much shorter and equitable across all regions.

Concerns remain about the quality of decision-making in some cases: applicants need to be treated fairly. Two years ago Citizenship and Immigration Canada conducted a Quality Assurance review of decisions in private sponsorship cases, but has yet to publish the report.

While the CCR welcomes the increases in numbers of resettled refugees, it objects to linking these increases to changes in the system for refugee claimants.  All refugees, wherever they are in the world, are equally deserving of protection and a durable solution.  In the case of claimants, Canada has international human rights obligations that must be honoured.

While numbers of privately sponsored refugees increased in 2009, the total number of refugees granted permanent residence in 2009 was low: 22,844, far below the average for the past decade of 28,000.  The CCR calls on the government to match the increase that it is asking from the private sector.

For more information about the delays at the Nairobi visa office, see Long delays at Nairobi visa office decried, 2 November 2009, http://www.ccrweb.ca/en/bulletin/09/11/02.

CCR release, CCR welcomes opening of door to more privately sponsored refugees, 21 July 2010, http://ccrweb.ca/en/bulletin/10/07/21.

  1. CCR calls for rights of Tamils on boat to be respected

The CCR, Amnesty International Canada and the Canadian Tamil Congress call on Canadians to be mindful of the need to honour international human rights obligations in responding to the Tamils believed to be on board a boat approaching North America.

“Over the years Canada has saved the lives of thousands of Tamils fleeing persecution, by providing access to a fair and independent refugee system,” said Wanda Yamamoto, CCR President.  “Whether they arrive by plane, foot or boat, people seeking refuge from human rights abuses have a right to an individual hearing on the reasons why they fled – a right recently reaffirmed by Parliament. In respecting this right we take a stand against the persecutors and the human rights violators.”

In recently published guidelines on Sri Lankan refugee claims, the UN Refugee Agency notes that groups potentially at risk of persecution in Sri Lanka include journalists, human rights activists, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals and persons suspected of having links with the LTTE (Tamil Tigers).

“Amnesty International has extensively documented the use by the Sri Lankan government of anti-terrorism laws to silence human rights activists, journalists, and other critics. Sri Lankans suspected, even if wrongly, of being LTTE supporters have been routinely imprisoned and tortured,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada.  “It is disturbing to hear some public comments that seem to follow this lead by labelling Tamil asylum seekers as “terrorists” before they have even had a chance to tell their story.  Canadian and international law requires that refugees have access to individual and unbiased determination of their claim to need protection.”

“Taking to the seas in a boat like this is very risky,” said David Poopalapillai, National Spokesperson, Canadian Tamil Congress.  “We can only imagine that the people on board must have been very desperate to undertake such a dangerous voyage.  We hope that our fellow Canadians will listen sympathetically to their stories and will support the government’s fair application of the law.”

To read the press release, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/en/bulletin/10/07/28

For related media articles, see: http://ccrweb.ca/en/mediaboat2010

To read the guidelines on Sri Lankan refugee claims, see: http://www.unhcr.org/refworld/docid/4c31a5b82.html

  1. Come to the CCR Summer Working Group meetings, Montreal, 27-28 August 2010

Working Group meetingsDo 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 to share information and strategies with others from across Canada? 

Come to the CCR Summer Working Group meetings in Montreal, 27-28 August 2010.

This summer the Working Group meetings offer an important opportunity to discuss and strategize about the implementation of C-11.  Simon Coakeley, Executive Director of the Immigration and Refugee Board, will attend part of the Inland Protection Working Group meeting to update us on IRB plans and to hear from the CCR about how the changes in the law should be implemented.  We will also be discussing, in all working groups, how to communicate to the public more effectively about the needs and rights of refugees.

When: 27-28 August 2010, 9:30am - 5 pm
            Friday 27 August, 9:30am - 5pm: Overseas Protection & Sponsorship
            Saturday 28 August, 9:30am - 5pm: Inland Protection and Immigration & Settlement
Where: Anglican Diocese of Montreal, 1444 Union (metro: McGill)., Montreal
Who: All interested NGO representatives and individuals.  The CCR encourages broad participation.  The meetings are closed to government and media. 

For more information and for a pamphlet about the Working Group meetings, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/meetings

  1. Fill out the CCR Youth Network Campaign Online Survey

CCRyouthStarting in September, the CCR Youth Network will be working on 2-3 youth-led CCR campaigns to address serious challenges faced by newcomer youth in Canada. To identify issues suitable for these national youth-led campaigns, we have created a youth-friendly online survey, Towards CCR Youth Network National Campaigns: Addressing Key Challenges Facing Newcomer Youth in Canada.

We invite all CCR members and others concerned with newcomer youth issues to participate. The deadline to fill out the survey is Tuesday August 24, 2010.

Click on this link to make your voice heard!

http://ccrweb.ca/en/youth-network-national-campaigns

Please share this link with all newcomer youth and youth allies in your community and networks.  Post it on your website, Facebook page and other online spaces.

  1. Visit CCR’s revised links page and (for CCR members) consult the online membership directory

The CCR’s links page has been update to include all CCR members: http://ccrweb.ca/en/links.

We also now have a useful online membership directory, with search functions.  This is available to CCR members only at http://ccrweb.ca/en/members.

If you are with a CCR member, but don’t yet have an account, create one now: go to http://ccrweb.ca/en/user/register.  More online features for CCR members will be coming soon.

  1. New from the CCR
    • Report from the CCR Spring Consultation ‘Solidarity and Protection: Our obligations at home and abroad’

Solidarity and ProtectionFrom 3-5 June 2010, refugee and immigrant rights advocates from across Canada were in Ottawa for the Canadian Council for Refugees 2010 (CCR) Spring Consultation on the theme Solidarity and Protection: Our obligations at home and abroad.  Thank you to everyone who helped in making the Consultation a success!  If you attended, we hope that your experience at the Consultation was a rewarding one and we look forward to working with you in the future.

A report of the Consultation sessions is available on the CCR website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/consultation_OttawaJune2010.pdf and can also be accessed on the Recent Information webpage at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/issues/recentinfo.htm

To see the online collection of photos that were taken at the Consultation, see:
http://bit.ly/csoA4P

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