Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 2 #2, 1 May 2007

A reminder to register for the CCR Spring Consultation 'The Successful Integration of Refugees and Immigrants', 24-26 May in Edmonton before May 4th (this Friday!) to benefit from early registration fees.

The Spring Consultation will be a unique opportunity for advocates to exchange ideas on the successful integration of refugees and immigrants, with a particular focus on how these issues are addressed through a gender lens.  We are pleased to welcome to the consultation from Geneva the UNHCR Head of Resettlement, Vincent Cochetel.

Information on registration rates, conference sessions (including updated information on the workshop sessions that will be held) and other important details are available on the CCR website at: Thank you for passing on news of the CCR Spring Consultation and how to register to colleagues, within your networks and at other events that you attend!

Are you engaged in issues that affect refugee and immigrant youth?  Come to the CCR Youth Network strategy session on Wednesday, May 23rd!  This is a fantastic opportunity to meet and learn from other youth from across the country working to promote refugee and immigrant rights in their schools, on their campuses and in their communities.  Participation in this session from 9 am to 5 pm on May 23rd is free (lunch will be $6).  Send an email to Colleen French ( to register.  Additional information is now available at:

Despite the growing crisis facing Iraqi refugees in the Middle East, Canada has done little in response.  The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and Iraqi community organizations in Canada recently called on the Canadian government to resettle more Iraqi refugees.

The CCR is concerned Canada has given no indication of any specific commitments to respond to the crisis facing Iraqi refugees.  Worse, the Canadian government rejects about half of the Iraqis currently in Syria or Jordan applying as privately sponsored refugees.  The Canadian government has failed to announce any target for the resettlement of government-assisted Iraqi refugees.

According to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), 2 million Iraqis have sought refuge in nearby countries, primarily in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon.  In addition, an estimated 1.9 million people are displaced internally within Iraq.

Since making the call, the CCR has learned that the Canadian government is now inviting the UNHCR to refer up to 1,400 Iraqi refugees for resettlement in 2007.

For the media release by the CCR and other organizations, see:

For further information, see backgrounder available at:

Members of Parliament have been debating Bill C-280, An Act to Amend the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (coming into force of sections 110, 111 and 171), calling for the immediate implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division.  It was approved by the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration and returned to the House of Commons for third reading, after which it will go the Senate.

We need to educate Senators about the importance of approving this bill as fast as possible.  Please contact Senators in you region.  You can find names and contact information of Senators by region at

The CCR has prepared an information backgrounder responding to a number of questions about the proposed Refugee Appeal Division, as well as highlighting the devastating human impacts of not implementing the RAD.  Please share the information in this document with senators from your province and use the set of talking points when you contact them.

The backgrounder and the talking points can be accessed online at:

In a press conference on Parliament Hill on April 18th, Benamar Benatta made a personal statement about his treatment by Canadian officials following the events of September 11, 2001 and asked for a review. His call was supported by the Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International Canada, the Canadian Arab Federation, the Canadian Council on American-Islamic Relations, and the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group.

On September 11, 2001, Mr. Benatta was a detained refugee claimant in Canada. On September 12, 2001, without being informed of what was happening, let alone given an opportunity to contest it in a hearing, without counsel, Mr. Benatta was illegally driven over the border in the back of a car by Canadian officials and handed over to U.S. officials. In the U.S., Mr. Benatta was treated as a suspect in the September 11, 2001 attacks and was imprisoned, abused and held in conditions that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention found could be considered as torture. Despite being cleared by the FBI in November 2001 of any connection to terrorism, he spent nearly five years in detention. On July 20, 2006, Mr. Benatta was finally allowed to return to Canada and has resumed his refugee claim.

For copies of the materials distributed at the press conference, see:

For media coverage of Mr. Benatta’s situation, see:

e) CCR presents to Parliamentary Committee on IRB appointments

The Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration has been hearing from a number of groups and individuals, including the CCR, on the crisis facing the IRB because of the failure of the government to appoint members.  About a third of IRB member positions are vacant.  Also at issue was the politicization of the selection process, with witnesses criticizing the government’s decision to have the Minister appoint half of the members the advisory panel for the selection process.  This decision led to the resignation en masse of the existing advisory panel members, including CCR Past President, Nick Summers.

The Canadian Bar Association (CBA) joined the CCR and other organizations in opposing the politicization: see their release, “CBA Says Merit Must Govern Appointments to IRB Selection Committees”, 19 April 2007, at

For the CCR’s earlier statement condemning the politicization of the process, see:

For media coverage highlighting the increasing backlogs as a result of vacancies at the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB), see:

The report of the 19 April meeting, at which the CCR appeared, can be found here.

The report of the 17 April meeting, at which Nick Summers spoke as one of the resigning members of the Advisory Panel, is here.

Human rights and refugee rights groups have expressed alarm at the Canadian government’s failure to respect the decision of the UN Committee Against Torture, which concluded that Enrique Falcon Rios is at risk of torture.

In December 2004, the Committee Against Torture found that the decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board in the case of Mr Falcon Rios, a refugee claimant in Canada, represented a denial of natural justice.  After two years during which Canada failed to address this decision, a Citizenship and Immigration Canada official recently reviewed the case.  He rejected the conclusion of the Committee Against Torture, declaring that he preferred the impugned decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board.

This rejection at the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment stage exposes Mr Falcon Rios to removal to a risk of torture, in violation of Canada’s obligations under the Convention Against Torture.

A joint letter has been sent to Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley calling on her to implement immediately the decision of the Committee Against Torture by ensuring that Mr Falcon Rios is protected from removal to Mexico.  The organizations also urge her to adopt a policy that ensures future full respect by Citizenship and Immigration Canada for all decisions of UN human rights institutions.

For a copy of the letter sent to Minister Finley, see:

For the 2004 decision of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, see document CAT/C/33/D/133/1999.

For the media release deploring the Canadian government’s decision in Mr. Falcon Rios’ case, see:

Thank you to everyone who took the time to complete the CCR Chronicle anniversary survey!

Some of the feedback that we will be working on in the coming months, include:

  • Providing creative ideas for CCR Chronicle readers to share the CCR Chronicle with  others and to use it in their own work and communications
  • Making the format of the CCR Chronicle more eye-catching online (available at: and when sent to subscribers.
  • Building on the Chronicle’s strength as a bilingual publication

If you have any additional suggestions to improve the CCR Chronicle, please send your comments to Colleen French at

Want to find out the latest developments in immigrant and refugee rights advocacy in Canada? Want to know more about promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees in your community? Then you will be interested in the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) Chronicle - a monthly digest keeping you in the loop on refugee and immigrant rights advocacy in Canada.

To receive the CCR Chronicle electronically, go to the Chronicle page.

Pass it on: tell others about the CCR Chronicle. A monthly dose this quick is good news!