2. Sub-Saharan African visa posts

May 2011
Whereas:
  1. The international community issued a call for action following the World Conference Against Racism (WCAR) held in 2001 in Durban, South Africa and the Government of Canada presented Canada’s Action Plan Against Racism in 2005;
  2. Examples of concerns include significant delays in the processing of cases in Sub Saharan African countries. Applicants face some of the longest waiting times and one of the highest rate of refusals, and the total quota of refugees accepted from the region is far lower than the extent of need identified by the UNHCR and NGOs. The recent announcement of a quota system for Quebec will reduce only the number of arrivals from Africa;
  3. This is clear evidence of systemic racism experienced by individuals of African origin across all categories of refugee protection and immigration.
Therefore be it resolved:

that the CCR call on the government of Canada to take specific steps to address systemic racism evident in policy and practice in refugee protection and processing of immigration files of Sub-Saharan Africans, and reiterate the request made to the Government of Canada in resolution 7 of May 2007 and Resolution 1 of June 2010 (page 21).

1. Equitable Access in Africa

Jun 2010
Whereas:
  1. Equitable access to resettlement and dignified treatment are fundamental to a just refugee resettlement system;
  2. Processing times for refugees to Canada from Africa are unacceptably long;
  3. The number of visa offices processing permanent residence applications in Africa is shockingly inadequate;
  4. CIC does not have the physical office space and resources to process applications;
  5. Refugees and their families suffer disproportionately from this situation in spite of the reality that African countries host huge numbers of refugees in need of resettlement;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR call on the government of Canada to provide:

  1. Sufficient visa offices in Africa to ensure adequate access.
  2. Sufficient resources to ensure timely processing times for refugee and family class applications in Africa.

7. African refugees

May 2007
Whereas:
  1. There are evident disparities in processing of African refugees’ files in terms of waiting times, refusal rates and systematic DNA testing, in comparison to other regions;
  2. African refugee situations are among the most protracted in the world.
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Request the Government of Canada establish an NGO-Government Committee on African refugee and immigrant issues to further monitor and document the situation and propose viable solutions;
  2. Seek collaboration on these issues with Canadian Council on International Cooperation (CCIC), especially the CCIC Africa Group;
  3. Once again request to be involved meaningfully in the Annual Levels Consultation process.

2. Interpreters at visa offices

Nov 2006
Whereas:

Recent information from various sources and complaints from refugees interviewed by the Damascus and other visa posts suggest that some refusals may be due
to interpretation.

Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR urge CIC to review increasingly serious concerns around interpretation at interviews, including allegations of bias, and ask that standards be adopted to ensure quality of interpretation.

7. Enhancing the role of NGOs in group processing of refugees to Canada

Jun 2005
Whereas:
  1. The UNHCR has demonstrated a keen interest in enhancing the role of NGOs in refugee resettlement, in particular in group processing initiatives;
  2. The 2003-2004 Group Processing Initiative, that is currently under evaluation by CIC, reveals some areas for improvement that may be addressed in part by NGO participation;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Request CIC to consult with partners and stakeholders on the benefits of including NGO personnel in all phases of group resettlement initiatives from identification and referral to post-arrival settlement;
  2. Encourage CIC to invite CCR (SAHs and settlement agencies) to pilot the inclusion of NGO personnel in forthcoming group processing initiatives in the field;
  3. Urge CIC to ensure that the CCR (SAHs and settlement agencies) and community partners in destination communities have sufficient, timely information to identify gaps and challenges and to plan how they will meet those needs, including by CIC placing Canadia NGO personnel in the countries of asylum in order to establish effective, timely linkages between the asylum countries and destining communities.

10. Overseas processing and targets

Nov 2004
Whereas:
  1. Overseas processing targets are inadequate, as reported in the “No Faster Way?” and “More than a Nightmare” documents, to meet demand in the family reunification and refugee sponsorship queues;
  2. Canada has an obligation to respond to the legitimate needs of Canadians, including its refugee sponsorship community and its separated families.
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Urge the Government to review the 60/40 ratio in order to increase the numbers of Humanitarian class cases being processed.
  2. Urge the Government to establish and implement service standards for all immigration categories which are simple, fast (in less than 8-12 months) and accessible.
  3. Reaffirm a consistent application for all posts of the policy priorizing refugees.

10. Slow processing times

May 2004
Whereas:
  1. There is a long, 2-3 year backlog of privately sponsored refugee applications.
  2. CCR adopted Res. 13, May 02 on long processing times.
  3. All government-assisted refugees (GARs) are now referred by the UNHCR (other than in source countries) and CCR has repeatedly been told that there are limited visa office resources.
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR urge CIC to simplify the overseas refugee determination process, and to eliminate the perennial backlog by not re-interviewing UNHCR referred GARs, and through temporary staff re-deployments.

13. Long processing times

Nov 2002
Whereas:
  1. The Government, in the context of private refugee sponsorship, claims to be committed to the principle of additionality;
  2. Visa post staffing was drastically cut in the mid 90s;
  3. The overseas processing time for refugees is disgracefully long. (Departmental informants tell us that currently, from the time the completed IMM8s are received at the visa post until the interview takes place is 21 months in Nairobi and 36 months in Damascus.)
  4. The overseas delays make it increasingly difficult to sustain the interest of sponsors in the private sponsorship program;
  5. The Government is committed to move toward annual immigration targets of 1% of the population of Canada;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR repeatedly challenge the Government, the Minister and senior government officials directly, and through the media, to increase visa post staffing so refugees can be processed expeditiously and in greater numbers.

 

14. African refugee source countries

Nov 2002
Whereas:
  1. Africa continues to be a source of refugees and international migration as a result of internal conflicts and political instabilities;
  2. The Canadian Government has classified a number of African countries as ‘Source Countries' of refugees;
  3. Refugees from these countries are not benefiting from such classification due to logistical and bureaucratic challenges;
  4. The International Region of CIC has not developed any strategic plan to deal with the protection and resettlement of refugees from African Source Countries;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Recommend that the Canadian Government consult with relevant grassroots community based organizations and concerned individuals in formulating program implementation relating to the protection and resettlement of refugees through the source country program so that valuable resources are utilized appropriately;
  2. Urge the International Region of CIC to assign more resources to the processing of refugee applications out of African Source Countries;
  3. Recommend that a joint ad hoc committee of CIC and concerned agencies of CCR be established to undertake a total review of the Source Country Class Program.

14. Priorizing Refugee Processing

May 2002
Whereas:

There is no consistently applied government policy priorizing refugee processing, the decision being left to individual officers at the posts;

Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR write to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and request a consistent application for all posts of the policy priorizing refugees.

 

3. Delays

May 2001
Whereas:

delays cause anxiety and instability for refugees and their families;

Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR contact the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and urge that CIC be resourced to supply sufficient support staff to provide for expeditious processing of family reunification, private sponsorships and other matters that require avoidance of delays and backlogs which cause pain and anxiety to refugees.

 

10. NGOs as overseas service partners

Nov 1998
Whereas:
  1. The Canadian Council for Refugees has promoted the involvement of NGOs in the identification of refugees overseas;
  2. Citizenship and Immigration Canada`s refugee resettlement model proposes the involvement of NGOs as overseas service partners;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR adopt as its position its paper Conditions for the Involvement of NGOs as Overseas Service Partners.

12. Pending cases

Nov 1998
Whereas:
  1. Some countries interpret the Refugee Convention in a narrow and technical manner denying effective protection to refugees;
  2. Canadian visa officers sometimes show too much deference to the decisions of tribunals of other countries which have refused refugee claims which under the Canadian interpretation of the Convention would be accepted;
  3. Canada's visa offices are inconsistent in their efforts to establish meaningful channels of communication with local and Canadian NGOs involved in resettlement;
  4. Canada has failed to put in place meaningful review of negative decisions despite a refusal rate significantly higher than other resettlement countries;
  5. Applicants for resettlement from some countries are deported from those countries despite having applications for resettlement to Canada pending, particularly in light of the frequent long processing times for such applications;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Call on the appropriate departments of the Government of Canada to:

     

    a)remind visa offices of the often broader interpretation of the Refugee Convention in Canadian law than that demonstrated by some other countries, particularly with respect to the absence of a requirement for persecution to be at the hands of the state;

    b)ensure that in cases where the applicant does not meet the Convention definition but has a private sponsorship that the relatively broader provisions of the Asylum Class are thoroughly considered;

    c)strengthen and regularize consultation between visa offices and local and Canadian NGOs involved in resettlement;

    d)establish and implement a meaningful review of negative decisions on resettlement cases similar to that recently adopted by US INS;

  2. Call on the Government of Canada to play a prominent role in convincing other governments to interpret the Convention in a broad manner;
  3. Ask the Government of Canada to urge other governments to allow applicants for resettlement in Canada to remain in their countries of asylum pending determination of their applications by Canada.

9. Overseas refusals

May 1998
Whereas:
  1. Visa officers appear to be refusing an increasing number of privately sponsored refugee applicants;
  2. There is no appeal from such refusals except by way of judicial review which few applicants are aware of or resourced to pursue;
  3. Canada Immigration National Headquarters staff have indicated no more exact figure than that between 40% and 60% of privately sponsored refugees are refused;
Therefore be it resolved:

That the CCR:

  1. Obtain from the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration broad based statistical information on refusals of privately sponsored applications.
  2. Request that the Minister put in place policy which requires visa posts to give sponsoring groups and refugee applicants detailed reasons for the refusal of an application.