On 30 August 2006, the Federal Court dismissed an application for an order to ensure that John Doe, one of the parties in the Safe Third Country legal challenge, could enter Canada. John Doe is a Colombian personally affected by the Safe Third Country Agreement – he has not been able to find protection in the US, but can’t enter Canada because of the agreement. Since he now faces imminent deportation from the US, he needs urgent protection and cannot wait until the legal challenge makes its way through the courts. But the Federal Court refused to allow him to wait in Canada while the case is being heard. The judge said that the Safe Third regulations “have been enacted in the public interest. Private interests of those such as Doe must yield to the public interest unless and until those Regulations have been held to be invalid.” The judge does not seem to recognize the “public interest” in ensuring that refugees are protected. The decision is available at http://decisions.fct-cf.gc.ca/en/2006/2006fc1046/2006fc1046.html.
The date for the hearing on the overall Safe Third Country legal challenge will likely be set sometime between October and the end of December 2006.
The challenge, filed in Federal Court on 29 December 2005 on the first anniversary of the Agreement, is being brought by the CCR, Amnesty International, the Canadian Council of Churches and John Doe. For more details about the challenge, see the March 2006 release at http://www.ccrweb.ca/releasesafe3March06.html
Meanwhile, eight months after the end of the first year of implementation of the Agreement, the US and Canadian governments have still not released the report on the first year, as called for in the Agreement.
After nearly five years in US jails, asylum seeker Benamar Benatta was transferred by the US government back to Canada. This allows him to resume the refugee claim he had been trying to make in September 2001. On September 12, 2001, Mr Benatta was handed over by the Canadian government to the US without any legal procedure. He was then held in a New York jail for several months in isolation as a September 11 suspect, apparently simply because he is a Muslim with a background in avionics. Despite being cleared by the US authorities in November 2001 of any involvement in the September 11 attacks, he remained in jail until his transfer back to Canada on 20 July. He is apparently the last of those detained in connection with September 11 to be released.
For more information, see Associated Press article, 17 August 2006, Post-9/11 Detainee Returns to His Life, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/08/17/AR2006081700831.html
Following incidents at the end of April 2006 involving children arrested in schools by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), the CCR wrote to CBSA to complain. The agency’s response included a copy of a May 2006 operational bulletin, which prohibits CBSA officers from entering schools or accessing school information for the purpose of enforcing the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA), except in extraordinary circumstances. In these exceptional circumstances, approval must be sought from headquarters before proceeding.
Following up on the Lives on Hold Day of Action in Ottawa, we strongly encourage organizations and individuals to write letters to the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration asking for regularization for nationals of moratorium countries. The Minister is currently studying the issue and we are waiting for his answer – your encouragement can help! We are also planning to table more petitions in Parliament, in order to keep up the pressure (new deadline 15 September 2006). A new model letter and an updated petition are available at: www.web.ca/ccr/livesonhold.htm.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org. It is a great advocacy and awareness-raising tool for this campaign. A DVD study guide with frequently asked questions about the situation of nationals from moratorium countries living in limbo, discussion questions related to the film and group activities will be available shortly on the Lives on Hold webpage: www.web.ca/ccr/livesonhold.htm
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.
The 2006 CCR Summer Working Group meetings will take place on 8 and 9 September in Montreal. The meeting location is on the sixth floor of the Downtown YMCA, 1440 Stanley Street between Ste-Catherine and de Maisonneuve streets (opposite the Peel metro station exit). Working group meetings are open to all interested NGO representatives and individuals and the CCR encourages broad participation. The meetings are closed to government and media.
The Overseas Protection Working Group will meet on Friday, September 8th from 9:30am - 5pm. The Inland Protection and Immigration and Settlement Working Groups will meet on Saturday, September 9th from 9:30 am to 5 pm.
Issues affecting immigrant and refugee youth will be the focus of the 2006 CCR Fall Consultation from 23-25 November 2006 in Montreal at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Save these dates and make it your organization’s priority to sponsor a youth delegate to attend the Fall Consultation in Montréal.
Check the ‘Meetings’ page of the CCR website for details of the Consultation in the coming weeks: http://www.ccrweb.ca/meetings.htm
Are you and your organization active within the CCR? Are you interested in taking your participation to a deeper level? You might consider nominating yourself or a member of your organization to the CCR Executive Committee. The CCR is calling for nominations for four new members of its Executive Committee, including the positions of Secretary, Treasurer and two members-at-large.
The deadline for nominations to the Executive Committee is 21 October 2006. Elections will take place at the CCR’s Annual General Meeting on Saturday 25 November in Montréal.
For more information on nomination criteria and the responsibilities and expectations of elected Executive Committee members, please send an email to email@example.com with ‘Executive Nominations’ in the subject heading.
Youth advocates for refugee and immigrant rights have come together online. We will be launching a new online discussion area, hosted by TakingITGlobal and setting the Youth Network’s objectives and priorities on the theme of ‘youth inclusiveness’.
If you or anyone you know would like to become involved in the CCR Youth Network on Refugee Rights and the online discussions, please pass on the discussion list address: www.groups.yahoo.ca/group/jeunesccryouth or contact Colleen French at the CCR office by email (firstname.lastname@example.org).
A disturbing chain email continues to circulate, wrongly stating that refugees in Canada receive greater financial assistance than Canadians collecting a pension. You can now access facts to refute this myth on the CCR website at: www.web.ca/ccr/refassistrebut.html. This page also contains links to other sources of information and rebuttals.