Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 3 #9, 6 January 2009

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Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 3 #9, 6 January 2009

CONTENTS:

  1. Take Action!: You and your parliamentarian for the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD)
  2. CCR statement on government documents on the lifting of moratoria on removals
  3. Consultations on new citizenship regulations – creation of statelessness
  4. Joint letter concerning Benamar Benatta’s illegal transfer to the US on 12 September 2001
  5. Announcement, re: CCR Working Group meetings, Toronto, 27 – 28 February 2009
  6. New Resources from the CCR

- Model letter in support of absorbing transportation loans for refugees
- Informational pamphlet on CCR Working Group meetings, Toronto, 27 – 28 February 2009
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2009 is just beginning and already it is showing promise with opportunities to promote the rights for refugees in Canada.  2009 also marks the 40th anniversary of Canada’s signature to the Refugee Convention.

Over the course of the year, the CCR will be using the 40th anniversary to highlight both successful efforts in achieving refugee rights in Canada, as well as to push for further changes. 

Keeping reading the Chronicle and consulting the CCR website at: www.ccrweb.ca for upcoming actions and statements.  Together we can make this anniversary one to remember.

  1. Take Action!:  You and your parliamentarian for the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD)

The next session of Parliament opens on 26 January 2009 and with it comes the opportunity to implement the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD) without further delay.

The Refugee Appeal Division was created within the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) as part of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), approved by Parliament in 2001.  Through its creation, Parliament gave refugee claimants a right to review on the merits of the case.  However, in 2002, the RAD was not implemented with the rest of the IRPA.

The last Parliament voted to force the implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division. Both the House of Commons (in 2007) and the Senate (in 2008) approved Bill C-280, An Act to amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act calling for the implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division. However, the bill has not yet become law because the House still needed to approve the amendments made by the Senate when the 2008 elections were called.

Join the CCR in calling on the government to implement the RAD without delay and on Parliamentarians to ensure its implementation by quickly adopting the RAD bill as amended by the Senate.

Call, meet with or write Members of Parliament, urging them to press for rapid reintroduction and passage of the RAD bill as amended by the Senate.  

Updated actions ideas and speaking notes are available on the Refugee Appeal Division webpage at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/campaigns/RADaction.htm

  1. CCR statement on government documents on the lifting of moratoria on removals

On 18 December, La Presse (Montreal) published an article reporting on government plans earlier in 2008 to lift moratoria on removals to five countries.  This plan was NOT implemented, but raises concerns for the Canadian Council for Refugees and people from affected moratorium countries.  The CCR issued a statement to clarify and reiterate the organization’s position.

The CCR’s primary concerns include:

  • Many nationals of moratorium countries remain in Canada without permanent status, in a constant state of anxiety about being expected to leave Canada if the moratorium is lifted.  In the meantime, their lives are on hold, as discussed in the CCR’s Lives on Hold Campaign
  • Applications for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C) unfortunately do not solve the problem for everyone. 
  • The integrity of Canada’s moratorium process depends on decisions to lift a moratorium being made based on timely information. 

For the detailed statement from the CCR, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/livesonholddec08.htm
For more information on the Lives on Hold campaign and additional information, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/livesonhold.htm

  1. Consultations on new citizenship regulations – creation of statelessness

The Government has published proposed regulations to implement amendments to the Citizenship Act made last year.  While the amendments restore citizenship for “lost Canadians”, they also promise to create a new category of “lost Canadians” by denying Canadians the right to pass on their citizenship if they are citizens born outside Canada to a Canadian citizen parent.  The Canadian Council for Refugees is deeply concerned that this will lead to children of Canadian citizens being born stateless.

The proposed regulations are published in the Canada Gazette, Part 1, 13 December 2008, http://canadagazette.gc.ca/partI/2008/20081213/html/index-e.html

The CCR’s comments on the 2008 amendments to the Citizenship Act (Bill C-37) are available at http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/c-37.pdf

  1. Joint letter concerning Benamar Benatta’s illegal transfer to the US on 12 September 2001

The CCR joined allies in a joint letter to the Minister of Public Safety to voice concern over the Government of Canada’s Statement of Defence in the case of Benamar Benatta.  On 12 September 2001 the Canadian government illegally transferred Mr Benatta to the US, where he spent nearly five years in detention, before being returned to Canada in July 2006.  Mr. Benatta was granted refugee status in Canada in November 2007.

The joint letter expresses dismay that the government would attempt to defend its actions in turning Mr Benatta over to the US, including through the introduction of a new explanation of its actions on 12 September 2001 that appears to have been invented post-facto to justify the illegal transfer.

Through its Defence, the Government advances legal arguments that seek to reduce the rights of people at our borders and even within our country.

The letter calls on the government to provide this account, as well as to compensate Mr. Benatta for the serious human rights violations that he experienced as a result of this transfer to the US.

To read a copy of letter, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/benatta08.htm

  1. Announcement of CCR Working Group meetings, Toronto, 27 - 28 February 2009

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 27 and 28 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 27 FEBRUARY: 9:30am - 5pm
Inland Protection Working Group meeting and
Immigration and Settlement Working Group meeting

- SATURDAY 28 FEBRUARY: 9:30am - 5pm
Overseas Protection and Sponsorship Working Group meeting

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

The CCR will also be holding a roundtable meeting with Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) and Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) on the morning of Monday 2 March.  Delegates of CCR member organizations interested in representing the CCR at this meeting must contact Janet at jdench@ccrweb.ca by Friday 23 January.

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. New Resources from the CCR

- Model letter in support of absorbing transportation loans for refugees

We often hear of the important of Canada’s role in welcoming refugees to a new, permanent home where they can rebuilding their lives and those of their children in safety and dignity.  What we hear less often is that refugees are welcomed with a starting burden of up to $10,000 to repay Canada for medical exams and travel expenses.

Join the CCR in asking the government to eliminate the burden of loans on refugees.  For the Canadian government, this is a small gesture with a big impact for both refugees and Canadian society.

Please send letters to the Minister of Finance and to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration asking them to absorb the costs of transportation and overseas medical expenses for refugees.

You’ll find a model letter to send to both Ministers at http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/transpoloansletter.htm.
 
For the CCR’s transportation loans webpage, go to http://www.ccrweb.ca/transportationloans.htm

- Information pamphlet on CCR Working Group meetings, Toronto, 27 – 28 February 2009

Are you planning to participate in the CCR’s Winter Working Group meetings in Toronto?  If so, use the flyer available at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/WGsEN.pdf to invite others.