Federal Court Ruling on Refugee Appeal Welcomed

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Media release

For immediate release
25 August 2014

Federal Court ruling on refugee appeal welcomed

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers and Canadian Council for Refugees welcome the recent Federal Court decision clarifying that the refugee appeal is a full appeal on the merits. The two organizations intervened jointly in the case (Huruglica, et al, vs Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration), 2014 FC 799, IMM-6362-13).

In a detailed and carefully reasoned decision, the Court ruled that the law requires the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) to conduct its own independent assessment of the refugee claim. The Court found that this was the intention of Parliament in passing the law. As then Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Jason Kenney said in the House about the bill enacting the RAD: “It would create for the first time a full and fact-based appeal at the refugee appeal division.” The decision from the Federal Court gives effect to this purpose of the bill.

Having a full appeal on the merits is critical for refugee rights: an error at the first instance that goes uncorrected can mean that a refugee is sent back to face persecution or even death.

Refugee advocates in Canada, led by the CCR, have advocated for an appeal on the merits for refugee claimants since the 1980s.  A refugee appeal was finally included in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in 2002, but the provisions were not implemented for a decade. After the refugee appeal was finally put in place in 2012, refugee advocates were dismayed to find the Refugee Appeal Division narrowly interpreting its role as requiring only limited supervision, rather than a full appeal on the merits. The Court’s judgment is an important correction to the Refugee Appeal Division’s mistaken interpretation of its purpose and jurisdiction. 

Contacts:

Colleen French, CCR Communications Coordinator, 514-277-7223, ext. 1, (514) 602-2098 (cell), cfrench@ccrweb.ca

Audrey Macklin, counsel for CARL and CCR, audrey.macklin@utoronto.ca