Canadian Council for Refugees
10 April 2019
CCR shocked by anti-refugee provisions in Budget Implementation bill
The Canadian Council for Refugees expressed its deep dismay at the inclusion in the Budget Implementation Bill (Bill C-97) of changes to the refugee determination system. If adopted, these provisions will place many people at increased risk of being sent back to face persecution, in violation of Canada’s international human rights obligations.
“The budget bill is no place for substantive changes to the law, especially if, as here, they undermine the basic rights of some of the most vulnerable people in Canadian society,” said Claire Roque, President. “We are shocked that the government is proposing to deny some refugee claimants their voice: the ability to share their story and have a fair hearing.”
Bill C-97 includes proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that would:
- Introduce a new ground of ineligibility for refugee protection if a claimant has previously made a claim for refugee protection in another country (notably in the US).
This means that numerous refugee claimants, who may need Canada’s protection because they are refugees, will be denied access to Canada’s refugee determination system. This applies even if the person never had a hearing on their claim in the other country, and came to Canada for compelling reasons (for example, to reunite with family members). Ineligible claimants will have access only to a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA), a process that is procedurally far inferior to refugee determination at the Immigration and Refugee Board.
- Extend the bar on applications for Pre-Removal Risk Assessment and humanitarian and compassionate consideration for refugee claimants who apply to the Federal Court for judicial review.
This new provision punishes people for using the legal recourse provided in Canadian law, extending the period during which they are barred from bringing forward new evidence of risk (for example, a family member was arrested). Similarly the provision extends the bar on bringing forward compelling humanitarian circumstances that cannot be raised in any other process.
The CCR is appalled that the government has included these dramatic changes in the budget bill, which will shield them from the full debate owed to changes affecting fundamental rights, and silence the voice of the most vulnerable.
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