Federal Court to hear our challenge to Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement
On 11 December, the Federal Court granted the CCR, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches (CCC) public interest standing in the legal challenge of the designation of the United States as a safe third country for refugees.
The federal government had asked the Court to remove the organizations as parties from the litigation. The Court rejected the motion, concluding that the organizations are well-placed to help advance access to justice for refugee claimants affected by the Safe Third Country Agreement and to assist the Court understand the impact on their rights under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
In July 2017, the three organizations joined an individual litigant and her children who are asking the Federal Court to strike down the Safe Third Country Agreement and allow her to make a refugee claim in Canada. The litigation is still in the preliminary stages, and the Court has not yet decided whether to grant leave.
Under the Safe Third Country Agreement refugees who present themselves at a Canada-US border post seeking to make a refugee claim in Canada are, with limited exceptions, denied access to the Canadian refugee system and immediately returned to the United States.
For more information see ccrweb.ca/en/safe-third-country
New directives to reduce detention of children, but more needs to be done
In early November we welcomed the Ministerial Direction and the Canada Border Services Agency “National Directive for the Detention or Housing of Minors”. These new instructions are a concrete step towards ending the detention of children on immigration grounds in Canada.
The CCR is particularly pleased that the directives acknowledge the best interests of the child as a primary consideration, when decisions are being made. The directives also clearly and repeatedly emphasize that non-detention is the rule and recognize the need to preserve family unity.
The CCR has long advocated for an end to the detention of children. While we welcome the new directives, we continue to call for a change to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. We believe that meaningful and lasting change will depend on the law providing strong protection of children’s rights.
For the full statement, see: ccrweb.ca/en/media/directives-detention-children
Passing the torch: We welcome a new President and Executive members
We are pleased to announce that Claire Roque was elected President at the CCR Annual General Meeting on 2 December. Ms Roque represents the Refugee Ministries at the Roman Catholic Diocese of London, based in Windsor. Dorota Blumczynska, Executive Director of IRCOM in Winnipeg, was elected Vice-President.
Ms Roque takes over from Loly Rico, who was President since 2012. CCR members had an opportunity during the consultation to thank Ms Rico for her outstanding leadership in advancing the cause of refugees and vulnerable migrants. We look forward to working with Claire, Dorota and other newly elected members of the CCR Executive.
For a complete list of CCR Executive Committee members, see: ccrweb.ca/en/executive-committee-and-working-group-chairs
Protecting refugees = Stronger communities: Join the new campaign
Support for refugees in Canada is at a turning point. In 2015 and 2016, in response to the crisis facing refugees from Syria, Canada and Canadians took action. But since then, Canada’s leadership on refugees has dropped.
Based on the results of recent public opinion polling of over 2000 Canadians, we know we need to show the human face of former refugees in Canada, as well as demonstrate the important economic and social contributions that former refugees make to tap into new support for refugees. We need to bring forward the positive contributions that former refugees bring to our communities.
Take part in this new campaign to demonstrate how Protecting Refugees = Stronger Communities. More information coming soon at: ccrweb.ca/en/stronger-communities
Join us at the International Conference for Refugee Rights, 7-9 June 2018
From 7 to 9 June 2018 the Canadian Council for Refugees invites non-governmental organizations and others to attend an international conference in Toronto designed to enhance effectiveness in promoting the human rights of refugees and vulnerable migrants.
Registration will open in January 2018.
For more information: ccrweb.ca/en/international-refugee-rights-conference-2018
Throughout 2017, our work has focused on refugee family reunification, as we firmly believe that reuniting family members in a safe and secure environment will greatly improve the well-being of former refugees and benefit their integration and contribution to society in general.
This holiday season, please help us ensure that the Canadian immigration system treats refugee families fairly. By reducing processing times to reunite refugee families in all categories, from all regions, refugee children will find safety faster and begin building their new lives in Canada sooner.
Make a difference before 2018 and help us reunite refugee children with their parents: ccrweb.ca/donate
Thank you for being part of our mission and best wishes to you and your family for 2018!