9 July 2003



Montreal. The Canadian Council for Refugees calls on the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to suspend removals to Colombia, in light of the widespread human rights abuses and ongoing war in that country.

"Canada shouldn't be forcing people back to a country as dangerous as Colombia,"said Kemi Jacobs, President. "The fact that Colombians faced with deportation are taking refuge in churches shows the level of fear." Since 1985, over 2.8 million people have been internally displaced in Colombia. In 2002, 412,000 Colombians were displaced by violence.

Amnesty International has, for many years, documented widespread and serious human rights violations in Colombia and has recently drawn attention to abuses associated with the "democratic security" policies of the new government.

The UNHCR, members of Congress and non-governmental organizations have also called on the US to offer Temporary Protected Status to all Colombians in the US. The Colombian government has supported this request. According to Hiram Ruiz of the US Committee for Refugees, "Most of the Colombians who have come to the United States in search of safety for themselves and their families have either already experienced kidnapping or extortion or legitimately fear that they might. The United States should not be sending Colombians back into the midst of the terror they fled."

In March 2003, the Canadian Council for Refugees wrote to Citizenship and Immigration Canada requesting a suspension of removals to Colombia. No response has been received. "It is regrettable that the government has not been able to address this matter in over three months," said Kemi
Jacobs. "After all, people's lives are at stake."

For more information, please contact:

Kemi Jacobs, President, CCR (416) 588-6288 (ext. 202)

Janet Dench, Executive Director, CCR (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)

Hiram Ruiz, US Committee for Refugees, (202) 347-3507 (July 9 - 11)


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.