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. Register now to take advantage of early registration rates and encourage your organization to sponsor a youth delegate to attend the Fall Consultation in Montréal! Special registration rates are available for youth, refugee and low income participants. Details and registration forms can be found on the ‘Meetings’ page of the CCR website www.web.ca/ccr/meetings.htm.
There will be a wide range of workshops at the consultation including: youth and settlement challenges and opportunities; refugee and immigrant youth and sexual health; trafficked persons and in the immigration program; post-refusal recourses for private refugee sponsorship applications; detention issues; the impact of the 'war on terrorism' on refugees and immigrants; using new media to promote refugee rights; and much more!
Please share this information with others and feel free to cut and paste the online conference poster for use on your organization’s website or print it out for posting. Thanks to Taro Hashimoto of Catholic Social Services in Edmonton for the design.
Current immigration measures provide no solution to many nationals of moratorium countries seeking regularization of their status, according to a report released on 26 September by the ‘Lives on Hold’ coalition, which includes the CCR.
The report analyses a number of negative decisions made in applications for humanitarian and compassionate consideration by nationals of moratorium countries. Persons from these countries are allowed to remain in Canada, but don’t necessarily have access to permanent status. The report finds that many applicants are refused even though they have been in Canada for more than four years and are self-supporting. (Some have been in Canada for 6, 7 or even 13 years).
Media release announcing the report: http://www.ccrweb.ca/releaseLivessept06.html
The ‘Lives on Hold: The limits of H&C’ report and other information about the Lives on Hold campaign can be found at: 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 Canadian Council for Refugees has expressed serious concern that the lack of government appointments is undermining Canada’s capacity to make fair and timely decisions in refugee and immigration matters. The federal government is failing to appoint and re-appoint sufficient numbers of members to the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
The IRB is already short 34 members (22% of the total complement). Taking into account mandates that are ending in the coming months, 64 appointments or re-appointments, representing 41% of the member complement, are needed by the end of March 2007. The member shortage will inevitably lead to backlogs. Both the Refugee Protection Division and the Immigration Appeal Division are affected. A number of the senior and coordinating members have not been re-appointed, leaving gaps in the Board’s leadership. There is also a serious shortage of francophone members outside Montreal, which will create injustices for French-speaking refugee claimants.
For a press release highlighting problem and calling for action, see: www.web.ca/ccr/releaseIRBapptsept06.html
Justice O’Connor presented his “Report of the Events Relating to Maher Arar” on 18 September 2006. The Commission cleared Maher Arar’s name and recommended reviews of the cases of other Canadians tortured in Syria, Abdullah Almalki, Ahmad El Maati and Muayyed Nureddin. The report’s dramatic evidence of how an innocent person came to be labelled a “suspected terrorist” has implications for people accused of security inadmissibility under immigration provisions, especially when secret evidence is used.
Commission recommendations of particular interest to those in the refugee and immigrant-serving sector are:
Recommendation 19: Canadian agencies conducting national security investigations, including CSIS, the RCMP and the CBSA, should have clear written policies stating that such investigations must not be based on racial, religious and ethnic profiling.
Recommendation 20: Canadian agencies involved in anti-terrorism investigations, particularly the RCMP, CSIS and the CBSA, should continue and expand on the training given to members and staff on issues of racial, religious and ethnic profiling and on interaction with Canada's Muslim and Arab communities.
The full report (in 3 volumes) can be found at: http://www.ararcommission.ca/eng/26.htm.
The Conservative Government announced a devastating series of budget cuts on 25 September, many of which will have impacts on refugees and immigrants. Among the cuts is the complete elimination of the Court Challenges Program, which has funded challenges by individuals and groups arguing that their Charter right to non-discrimination is being violated. The CCR has been able to draw on the program’s support for a number of interventions at the Supreme Court, as well as individual test cases concerning refugee and immigrant rights.
The Canadian Charter’s guarantee of equality loses much of its meaning if only the rich can challenge laws and practices that appear to discriminate against some people. The CCR encourages groups and individuals to write to the Prime Minister and their Member of Parliament to call for the reinstatement of the program. For more information, please send an email to email@example.com.
An opinion piece about the cancellation of the Court Challenges Program can be found here
As of 31 August 2006, the Canadian government has stopped “direct backs” of refugee claimants at land ports of entry. The use of direct backs in the past few years has led to hundreds of claimants being sent back to detention in the US, and in some cases deported by the US to the country of origin. The CCR vigorously opposed the government’s use of direct backs. Under the new policy, direct backs are only allowed in "exceptional circumstances" and are subject to monitoring by National Headquarters of the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA).
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 firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Executive Nominations’ in the subject heading.
A study guide to accompany the Lives on Hold DVD is now available on the Lives on Hold webpage: www.web.ca/ccr/livesonhold.htm. The guide has frequently-asked questions about the situation of nationals from moratorium countries living in limbo, discussion questions related to the film and group activities.
DVD copies of the bilingual film ‘Lives on Hold Des vies en suspens’ are available for $5.00 each (price includes shipping) by sending an email request to email@example.com . This short film is an excellent resource to promote the Lives on Hold campaign.
Reports and action plans from the International Refugee Rights Conference are now available online at: www.web.ca/ccr/intconf.htm in .pdf and .html formats. Speaking notes and PowerPoint presentations from many panelists are also posted on the website. On this site you will also find a new section on the emerging International Network has also been created. Please share this information about the International Network with others.