FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CCR asks: "Who makes the laws in Canada: Parliament or the politicians?"
18 December 2002 – The Canadian Council for Refugees is demanding answers as Denis Coderre, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, backs away from his promise, made on behalf of the government, to implement within one year the refugee appeal process adopted by Parliament.
In response to repeated requests from the CCR that the Minister name the date of implementation of the refugee appeal, the Minister recently sent the CCR a letter which does not even mention the clear provisions of the law. Instead the letter reports that he will develop "viable options for an effective appeal process."
"The option has already been developed: Parliament passed a law that includes the Refugee Appeal Division. The Minister apparently believes that he can amend the law without bothering to consult Parliament," says Kemi Jacobs, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees. "Who makes the laws in Canada: Parliament or the politicians?"
In June, Minister Coderre confirmed in the House of Commons his promise that the appeal process would be implemented within one year. His recent letter to the CCR fails to mention that promise and says instead that it is "premature" to discuss specific proposals for an appeal but that the CCR will be consulted.
"It is not premature, but on the contrary far too late to be talking about options and consultation. Parliament has already decided and Parliament approved the Refugee Appeal Division. It is the government’s job to implement the law," says Jacobs. "Do we no longer live in a country where the rule of law prevails?"
The backtracking on the implementation of the appeal is only one in a series of moves that shows Canada becoming increasingly unfriendly towards refugees, while harmonizing policies with the US.
The government recently signed a "safe third country" agreement with the United States, closing Canada’s door and forcing thousands of refugees to make their asylum claims in the United States instead, where standards of protection are much lower. Canada is also detaining more refugees, following the unenviable example of the US where detention of refugees is widespread.
"Is Canada reneging on its tradition of treating people with justice?" asks Jacobs. "Canada cannot ignore its relationship with its southern neighbour, but it also has responsibilities as a member of the global community. We have built ourselves a reputation internationally as a country that is fair to refugees. Should we jeopardize that now by turning our backs on refugees?"
For more information, please call:
Kemi Jacobs, President (416) 588-6288
Janet Dench, Executive Director (514) 277-7223
The Canadian Council for Refugees is a non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The membership is made up of over 175 organizations involved in refugee sponsorship and protection and in newcomer settlement. The CCR serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.