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Canadian Council for Refugees
For immediate release
16 June 2011
Reintroduction of anti-refugee bill deplored
The Canadian Council for Refugees today expressed its profound disappointment at the reintroduction of a bill that has been widely condemned as violating the basic rights of refugees. Despite the government’s claims that the bill targets smugglers, the people who will be punished if it is passed are the people fleeing persecution, including children.
“We are celebrating this year the 60th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, but instead of honouring this treaty, the government is proposing to violate it,” said Wanda Yamamoto, President. “Let’s not forget that the Convention was adopted because many countries, including Canada, had closed their doors on Jewish refugees fleeing the Nazis, and we said ‘Never again!’”
Among others, the bill proposes the following unacceptable measures:
- The mandatory detention of some refugees, without independent review. This is arbitrary detention, which is contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and to international law. Children will be among those jailed.
- Long-term limbo for some recognized refugees, by denying them the right for five years to apply for permanent residence, and blocking reunification with their children, in violation of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Children left behind overseas are at risk while waiting to be reunited with their parents who are refugees in Canada.
The bill is a reintroduction of Bill C-49 from the previous Parliament. C-49 was overwhelming condemned:
- It was rejected by all opposition parties.
- Many civil society organizations criticized it, including more than 80 that signed the CCR statement: http://ccrweb.ca/en/organizations-calling-defeat-bill-c-49
- Many legal experts have stated that it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international law (see, for example, the brief of the Canadian Bar Association, http://www.cba.org/CBA/submissions/pdf/10-78-eng.pdf)
The CCR notes that the proposed legislation is likely to have little or no deterrent effect on the organizers of human smuggling operations who already face penalties of up to life in prison and a one-million dollar fine.
Colleen French, Communication and Networking Co-ordinator, tel. (514) 277-7223 ext. 1, email: cfrench [at] ccrweb [dot] ca
For further information on the earlier version of the legislation, Bill C-49, see http://ccrweb.ca/en/c49