Letter - withdrawal from Temporary Suspensions of Removal reviews

29 January 2010


Stephen Rigby
Canada Border Services Agency
191 Laurier Avenue West
Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0L8


Dear Mr Rigby,

            I am writing with regret to inform you that the Canadian Council for Refugees is withdrawing from participation in the review process for countries of temporary suspension of removal, until such time as our concerns with the process are addressed and we can be confident that participation is meaningful.

             The CCR has been a formal participant in this process since it was launched in 2001, and indeed gave input to the government as it developed the terms of reference for the current process.  We were hopeful in the early stages that our submissions would contribute meaningfully to an objective and fact-based review.  Unfortunately, we have been forced to conclude that our submissions, which are time-consuming to produce, currently play little or no role in the decision-making process, which seems to be essentially political.

            Worse, in announcing the lifting of the moratoria on removals to Burundi, Rwanda and Liberia in July 2009, CBSA referred to the CCR’s participation in the process, without clarifying our position.  We are dismayed to see our participation being used publicly to give credibility to a process about which we have grave concerns.

            A key indication for us of the inadequacy of the process is the failure to impose any new suspensions since 2004, although there are situations where it is clearly warranted.  In 2008, we presented a submission recommending the suspension of removals to Somalia.  This country, which has been without a functioning central government since 1991, is suffering an ongoing and acute political and humanitarian crisis, resulting in generalized insecurity. It is hard to imagine many situations more obviously deserving a temporary suspension of removals.  Yet we did not even receive a response to our submission.

             We remain committed to the importance of temporary suspensions of removal, and believe that NGOs can play a useful role in the process.  We look forward to any proposals from you that might open the way to addressing our concerns and allowing us to participate  meaningfully.

Yours sincerely,


Wanda Yamamoto

cc. The Honourable Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety