Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 1 Issue 4, 4 July 2006

At the end of June, the CCR called on the Canadian government to respect requests from UN human rights committees to stay a removal while an individual complaint is being examined.  Despite such a request, Bachan Singh Sogi was apparently recently removed to India where he fears he will be tortured.

The CCR was deeply disturbed to learn that the Government of Canada intended to breach its obligation under the UN Convention Against Torture, by deporting Mr Sogi despite a formal request from the UN Committee against Torture to stay his removal and despite a finding by a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment officer that Mr. Singh faces a risk of torture in India.

The CCR, Amnesty International, the Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario, la Ligue des droits et libertés, the Sogi Singh Support Committee, Members of Parliament and concerned individuals all pressed the government to respect the UN Committee Against Torture and not to deport Mr Sogi.

For a joint CCR-AI press release, see

For the letter sent by the CCR to the Minister of Public Safety, see  We encourage organizations to send similar letters.   (For fax numbers, contact

From 17 to 19 June nearly 500 refugee rights advocates from around the world met at York University in Toronto to discuss how to better support one another in efforts to promote the rights of refugees.  At the close of the three-day conference, actions plans for improved collaboration across borders were presented.  A key recommendation adopted was the creation of a steering committee to oversee the development of an international network of refugee rights NGOs.  A report of the conference, including copies of many of the workshop presentations, will be available in the coming weeks.

For a complete schedule of the conference, see:

YOUth are making it happen!  During the International Conference on Refugee Rights, a number of youth refugee rights advocates met to launch the CCR Youth Network. We are exploring ways to address special concerns, including the alienation of refugee and newcomer youth in Canadian society, to encourage youth membership within the CCR and to make CCR campaigns more accessible to youth activists.  We will be introducing some new materials for youth in the fall.

We’ve started an online discussion forum to share ideas on these and other issues.  If you or anyone you know would like to become involved in the CCR Youth Network on Refugee Rights and the online discussions, please contact Colleen French at

The Executive Committee of the CCR has decided that youth issues will be the focus of the 2006 Fall Consultation, 23-25 November 2006 in Montréal.  Save these dates and make it your organization’s priority to sponsor a youth delegate to attend the Fall Consultation in Montréal.

On June 20th, World Refugee Day, the CCR welcomed the launch of the International Coalition on the Detention of Refugees, Asylum Seekers and Migrants. The coalition has been formed by more than 100 human rights groups worldwide, including the CCR, to challenge immigration detention.

Events to launch the coalition were being held in USA, Mexico, Kenya, South Africa, India, Australia, Lebanon, Belgium, Spain, Italy, Hungary, Malta, Ireland and Switzerland. Among the members of the coalition are Amnesty International, Human Rights First, Human Rights Watch, Jesuit Refugee Service, Women’s Commission for Refugee Women and Children, World Council of Churches, and a number of national NGOs.

For the CCR press release announcing the launch of the Coalition in Canada, see: The website of the International Detention Coalition is

On 28 June 2006, the fourth anniversary of the passing of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the CCR drew attention to government lack of accountability in failing to implement the refugee appeal.  The CCR called on Members of Parliament to support Bill C-280, introduced by the Bloc Québécois, which called for the immediate implementation of the refugee appeal.

The right to a refugee appeal was included in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act as passed by Parliament.  However, the government has failed to respect the democratic will of Parliament by giving refugees their right to an appeal.

For the CCR press release calling for the implementation of the refugee appeal, see:

For the text of Bill C-280, see:

On 29 June 2006, Justice Tremblay-Lamer granted leave for judicial review in the legal challenge of Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement.  No date has been set for the hearing yet.  The challenge, filed 29 December 2005 on the first anniversary of the Agreement, is being brought by the CCR, Amnesty International, the Canadian Council of Churches and an individual asylum seeker in the US.  For more details about the challenge, see the March 2006 release at

Meanwhile, 18 months after the implementation of the Agreement, the US and Canadian governments have still not released the report on the first year of the agreement, as called for in the Agreement.

g) CCR appears before the Supreme Court in Security Certificate case; Mohammed Harkat released on bail

Sharry Aiken made oral arguments on behalf of the CCR at the Supreme Court hearings held 12-13 June on the constitutionality of security certificate provisions.  The CCR has intervener status in the case, as part of a coalition, and raised arguments focusing on the principle of non-discrimination.  Following the hearings, it appears likely that the Supreme Court will find some aspects at least of the security certificate provisions contrary to the Charter, although the judges did not seem willing to grapple with the fundamental unfairness of applying such measures only to non-citizens.  (The struggle to recognize non-citizens as fully human is going to be a long one).

Sharry, a Queen’s University law professor and former CCR president, is acting pro bono for the CCR. She worked as part of a team of lawyers representing the coalition (Sharry, Marie Chen and Mary Eberts).

One of the security certificate detainees, Mohamed Harkat, was released on bail on 21 June.  A Federal Court judge found that there had been unexplained delay in processing his case, leading to prolonged detention, that he would not be removed in the near future, that release without conditions would pose a threat to safety but that the threat could be balanced by a series of conditions.  The bail conditions set for Mr Harkat are stricter than those for Adil Charkaoui, another of the security detainees released earlier.  The decision and details of Mr Harkat’s bail conditions are available at: The government unsuccessfully appealed the decision to allow Harkat’s release in early June.

As follow up from the Lives on Hold Day of Action in Ottawa, we encourage organizations and individuals to write letters to the Minister. We also want to submit more petition signatures, in order to keep up the pressure (new deadline 15 September 2006).  A new model letter and an updated petition following on from the Day of Action are available at:

Copies of the bilingual 10-minute ‘Lives on Hold – Des vies en suspens’ DVD are available for order at $5 (includes shipping and handling) by emailing  It is a great advocacy and awareness-raising tool for this campaign.

Background to the ‘Lives on Hold’ campaign:
Canada imposes a moratorium on removals of people to certain countries because of situations of generalized insecurity there.  This means that people from Afghanistan, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe are not deported, but they are living in legal limbo in Canada and unable to get on with their lives.  The ‘Lives on Hold’ campaign calls on the Canadian government to grant permanent residence to nationals of moratoria countries who have been in Canada for three years or more.


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