An article in La Presse (Ottawa songe à modifier sa politique de renvoi des sans-papiers, 18 December 2008) reports on government plans earlier in 2008 to lift moratoria on removals to five countries.  This plan was NOT implemented, but raises concerns for the Canadian Council for Refugees and persons from affected moratorium countries.  The statement below clarifies and reiterates the Canadian Council for Refugees position.

Canada currently has a moratorium on removals to eight countries, Afghanistan, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda and Zimbabwe, in recognition of the situation of generalized insecurity in these countries.  While nationals of these countries are not removed, they are not necessarily able to obtain permanent residence status, even after many years here. 

The Canadian government regularly reviews the situation in each of the moratorium countries, in order to decide whether to maintain or lift the moratorium.  As part of this process, the CCR is invited to make submissions.  For example, on 15 December 2008, the CCR made a submission recommending the maintenance of the suspension of removals to the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).  The last review of Haiti was in September 2007.

CCR concerns

  • Many nationals of moratorium countries remain in Canada without permanent status, in a constant state of anxiety about being expected to leave Canada if the moratorium is lifted.  In the meantime, their lives are on hold, as discussed in the CCR’s Lives on Hold Campaign.  The CCR calls on the government to facilitate the granting of permanent residence to persons who have been in Canada for more than three years and who are from countries on which Canada has imposed a moratorium on removals.
  • Applications for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate grounds (H&C) unfortunately do not solve the problem for everyone.  This process is subject to arbitrary and discretionary decision-making, where two people with the same profile get different results (see the report Lives on Hold – The limits of H & C, September 2006)
  • The integrity of Canada’s moratorium process depends on decisions to lift a moratorium being made based on timely information.  The CCR opposes lifting a moratorium on removals on the basis of a review that is more than six months old, given the changing nature of circumstances in the countries.  The documents reveal, however, that the government was prepared to lift a moratorium based on a review that is more than a year old.

For more information:
For more information on the situation of nationals of moratorium countries, see:

Report - Lives on Hold: Nationals of Moratoria Countries Living in Limbo, July 2005,

Report - Lives on Hold - the Limits of H&C, September 2006,

Profiles: The faces behind humanitarian and compassionate applications, March 2007,

Lives on Hold campaign webpage,

For a practical guide for nationals of moratorium countries and steps to take, go to: