Resolutions adopted June 1997

Whereas:
  1. Presently no guidelines exist at the IRB with respect to making children's best interests a primary consideration in appropriate cases before it;
  2. The need to assign primary consideration to the best interests of children is required by international legal instruments to which Canada is a party;
  3. The Federal Court of Canada has failed to give effect to the best interests of children representing more than a consideration in immigration matters affecting children's interests;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Encourage the IRB to develop guidelines for the Immigration Appeal Division and the Convention Refugee Determination Division appertaining to the best interests of children in light of the principle of family reunification and Canada's international legal obligations, including the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Hague Convention on adoptions;
  2. Urge the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to adopt and implement the guidelines so developed for both inland and visa office cases.
Whereas:
  1. Section 44 of the Immigration Act prevents a person from making a claim if they have been issued an exclusion order;
  2. Senior Immigration Officers were given the power to issue exclusion orders under the former Bill C-86;
  3. Some Senior Immigration Officers (SIOs) have not been ensuring that persons concerned are aware that they must claim refugee status or they are ineligible and barred from later making a refugee claim;
  4. Many refugees believe wrongly that they must be admitted to Canada before they can make a refugee claim;
  5. Due to poor interpretation, inadequate or poor explanation or undue pressure persons at risk have been removed or detained;
  6. There have been many incidents such as the recent case of stowaways in Halifax where the SIO appears to have failed to ensure that the applicants knew of their right to claim refugee status;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Write the Minister and explain how Section 44 is being abused by SIOs and request an amendment to ensure that a person may be able to make a refugee claim even if an exclusion order has been issued;
  2. Write to the Director General of Enforcement, CIC, and demand that he issue guidelines to SIOs that ensure that refugee claimants are cautioned that they must make their claim before they issue an exclusion order and that they make sure that the person concerned has a full and fair opportunity to make an informed decision.

 

Whereas:
  1. The CCR has adopted a resolution strongly opposing any Memorandum of Agreement (MOA)/Safe Third Country Agreement (STC) between the United States and Canada;
  2. The United States government has recently passed regressive immigration legislation;
  3. This legislation has resulted in the summary removal of approximately 4,000 people from the US between April 1 and May 13, 1997, as a result of lack of identity documents;
  4. Some of the people who have been summarily removed have been en route to Canada to make refugee claims;
  5. These summary removals provide conclusive evidence that the United States is not meeting standards of protection articulated in the Geneva Convention;
  6. The Québec Ministre des Relations avec les citoyens et de l'Immigration has publicly supported the implementation of the MOA/STC agreement;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Condemn this shift in US immigration policy and procedure and reiterate its strong opposition to the negotiation of any MOA or STC agreement;
  2. Write to the Québec Ministre des Relations avec les citoyens et de l'Immigration explaining our position on this issue and urging him to withdraw his support for the MOA/STC agreement.
Whereas:
  1. The IRB in Montreal has adopted a new policy on scheduling refugee claims and as a result will be hearing a large percentage of more recently arrived refugee claimants ahead of claims that have been waiting for a longer time;
  2. This policy will increase the hardship of many refugee claimants who have already been suffering the effects of long delays;
  3. Administrative needs should not be put ahead of the rights of refugees to a just and speedy hearing of their claims;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Is opposed to the implementation of the new IRB policy, which will put recent claims ahead of pre-existing claims for their own administrative purposes;
  2. Express to the IRB our deep concerns and opposition to this policy.
Whereas:
  1. The Immigration and Refugee Board has been handling all claims to Convention refugee status from Chileans, Mexicans and other nationalities as if all such claims were manifestly unfounded claims (MUCs);
  2. This practice of the IRB denies the individuality of claims and goes against the policy of case by case determination;
  3. This practice by the IRB may lead to the rejection of valid claims;
  4. This practice of the IRB may be applied to refugee claimants from other countries;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR demand that the IRB take steps to stop the practice of treating all claims from particular countries as if they were all manifestly unfounded.

Whereas:
  1. The Federal Court of Canada has been extremely reticent to apply the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms and international human rights obligations in the judicial review process for refugee claimants and non-residents;
  2. Immigration and refugee practitioners are frustrated with the negative attitude of the Federal Court to refugee and immigration issues;
  3. The Federal Court leave requirements and the process for certification for appeal to the Federal Court of Appeal afford less access to the Court by refugee claimants and immigrants than the average Canadian has to appeal a conviction for a traffic ticket;
  4. The news media and notes produced before the Supreme Court of Canada have shown that there have been improper contacts between the Ministry of Justice and the Federal Court and there are currently inquiries by the Canadian Judicial Council and the Ministry of Justice;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Demand that the independence of the Federal Court be reaffirmed and that, more particularly, contacts between the government and its quasi-judicial bodies and the Federal Court without the presence of the opposing parties or non-governmental organizations cease immediately and that the current inquiries be expanded to include such contacts;
  2. Express its concern to the Minister of Justice that the Federal Court is not consistently applying the Charter and our international human rights obligations and that it is overly restrictive in its application of judicial review in its handling of immigration and refugee matters and ask the Minister of Justice to commission an independent study on the effectiveness of the judicial review remedy;
  3. Ask that the federal government appoint judges to the Federal Court who have an immigration and refugee law background, particularly those who are members of the immigration bar.