Canadian Council for Refugees
19 July 2013
CCR welcomes Ezokola decision clarifying refugee exclusion
The Canadian Council for Refugees welcomes the Supreme Court’s decision today in Ezokola, which brings Canada into line with international standards on when people can be excluded from refugee protection.
“We are pleased to see the Supreme Court clarify that people should not be excluded based on guilt by association,” said Loly Rico, President. “Many refugees have been excluded from refugee protection in Canada not because they committed any crimes themselves, but because of a group they were considered to be associated with.”
The Ezokola decision corrects Canadian jurisprudence that had overextended the interpretation of exclusion based on war crimes, resulting in innocent people being denied protection and wrongly labelled “war criminals”. It will mean that refugees will no longer be excluded from protection based on simple suspicion of crimes or based on the criminal acts of a group they belong to, without them personally being guilty of any crime.
Refugee decisions affect individual human lives and, as the Court recognized, give life to the Refugee Convention which has an “overarching and clear human rights purpose”. Wrongly excluding people from refugee protection can mean sending them back to serious human rights abuses.
The CCR intervened in this case, represented by Pia Zambelli, Angus Grant and Catherine Dauvergne.
The decision is available at http://scc.lexum.org/decisia-scc-csc/scc-csc/scc-csc/en/item/13184/index.do
Janet Dench, 514-277-7223 (ext 2) firstname.lastname@example.org