Canadian Council for Refugees E-Chronicle Vol. 2 #7, 1 November 2007

The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and allies called on Parliament to reject Bill C-3, which provides for continued use of security certificates, relying on secret evidence.

This bill is the government’s response to the Supreme Court of Canada’s Charkaoui decision, which ruled that, because of the use of secret evidence, those subject to security certificates are denied a fair hearing.  The bill proposes to maintain the use of secret evidence, but introduces a “special advocate” who would be able to hear the secret evidence.

The CCR maintains that “special advocates” are not the solution.  Even with a special advocate, the hearing will not be fair nor will the accused know or have the opportunity to respond to the case against them.  Security certificates are not necessary to protect security: criminal investigations and prosecution should be used rather than immigration processes.  Criminal prosecution is a much better approach because it allows more effective protection not only of individual rights, but also of security.

A CCR submission on the choices before Parliament in responding to the Charkaoui decision is available at and the key points at

A media release responding to the tabling of Bill C-3 is available at:

On the afternoon of Wednesday 28 November in Ottawa, the CCR is organizing a National Lobby Day on Parliament Hill.  CCR members will be meeting with Members of Parliament to raise issues relating to family reunification, temporary workers, and the protection of trafficked persons in Canada.  Many MPs from across the country have already agreed to meet with CCR members on 28 November.  This is a great opportunity to talk to legislators about what we would like to see on their priority list!

Interested in joining a CCR delegation on 28 November?  Please check the appropriate box on your CCR Fall Consultation registration form or email Colleen French at

From 29 November 1 to December 2007 refugee and immigrant rights advocates from across Canada will be gathering in Ottawa for the Canadian Council for Refugees 2007 Fall Consultation on the theme of ‘Breaking the Barriers to Refugee and Immigrant Rights’.  Information about the consultation and online registration forms are available at: 

Printed copies of the Consultation program and registration forms have been sent to CCR members in the Member mailing.  Don’t forget to register before 9 November to take advantage of the reduced fees!

Please help us to promote this Consultation by directing people who might be interested in attending to the consultation webpage at:

Downloadable, printable posters and web-based promotional materials are also available there.  Please share these resources with others in your organization and in your community!

Bill C-280, which can bring about the implementation of the Refugee Appeal Division, is back before the Senate. It has realistic chances of being passed.  To help it along, the CCR coordinated a day of meetings with Senators in Ottawa on 30 October.  The meetings, with a total of nine Senators, were very useful in explaining the impacts of the lack of appeal and highlighting for them the importance of speedy passage of the bill.

However, we also heard that we need to continue to contact Senators to win their support.  We urge you to take this opportunity to contact Senators from your region, and if possible, organize a meeting to discuss Bill C-280.  This is our best chance to make the bill a reality – let’s make the most of it!

For a guide on how to approach a meeting and on what to say, please go to:

For more information about the Refugee Appeal Division, please see:
- A backgrounder on the Refugee Appeal Division:
- The CCR’s Refugee Appeal Division webpage:

The Canadian Council for Refugees joined the United Nations Refugee Agency in condemning the Canadian government for having summarily removed five refugee claimants on Monday 8 October.  The four Haitians and one Salvadoran were returned to the U.S. from the Lacolle, Québec border point without being given a chance to make a refugee claim.  The next day, another 4 refugee claimants were directed back from another Québec border crossing.

The claimants were turned away using a provision the government calls “direct backs”, which the UN and human rights organizations say should never be used against refugee claimants.  According to government policy adopted in August 2006, direct backs of refugee claimants are not permitted, unless there are “exceptional circumstances”.  On 8 October there were only 33 claimants at Lacolle.

The use of direct backs is also contrary to the Safe Third Country Agreement¸ which the Canadian government justified as providing a clear legal framework to assign responsibility between the U.S. and Canada for refugee determination.  “Direct backs” force refugees to make their claim in the U.S. even when according to the restrictive Agreement they are entitled to make their claim in Canada.  Furthermore, refugee claimants who are directed back by Canadian officials may be detained by the U.S. authorities.  Two of the claimants were in fact detained by the U.S. authorities.

Amnesty International Canada and the CCR have lodged a complaint about Canada’s use of direct backs with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.  The complaint is pending.

For more information on the complaint to the Inter-American Commission, see:

For the joint CCR-Amnesty International media release on the recent direct backs, see:

For the release from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, see:

e) Update: ‘Proud to aid and abet refugees’

The CCR continues to encourage people and organizations to respond to the shocking government decision to press charges against Janet Hinshaw Thomas, a representative of PRIME – Ecumenical Commitment to Refugees. Ms. Hinshaw Thomas was assisting refugee claimants to get to the Canadian border to make a claim when she was arrested by Canadian authorities and charged with people-smuggling under section 117 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.  This states that “No person shall knowingly organize, induce, aid or abet the coming into Canada of one or more persons who are not in possession of a visa, passport or other document required by this Act.”

We will be inviting groups to take new actions soon.  Information will be posted at this webpage:

In the meantime, we encourage groups to take action by writing to the Attorney General, as directed in the Amnesty International urgent action:

The media release from the CCR is available at:

A letter sent by the Canadian Bar Association is available at:

The CCR is inviting organizations to join it in calling on the Canadian government to do more to respond to the Iraqi refugee crisis, by increasing aid to countries in the region hosting the overwhelming majority of Iraqi refugees, increasing resettlement of Iraqi refugees to Canada and taking a strong stand urging borders to be kept open to Iraqi refugees.

The statement and background information are available at:

To communicate your organization’s endorsement of the call, please write to

We encourage you to pass this invitation on to other organizations, including those representing the Iraqi community in Canada, that might be interested in joining this call.

In February 2007, the CCR adopted a new angle in the campaign to protect the rights of trafficked persons in Canada.  The Proposal for Legislative Change advocates for legislative changes to ensure that there is a permanent and fundamental change in policy so that trafficked persons in Canada are protected.

The CCR and its trafficking campaign allies are calling for organizations to endorse this position and to help us promote it to legislators.  CCR members and allies will be discussing this campaign with Members of Parliament on Wednesday, 28 November as part of National Lobby Day activities.  This will be an excellent opportunity to discuss the Proposal for Legislative Change with MPs and ask for their support.

Stay tuned for updates to the trafficking webpage for new materials and resources to use in promoting the campaign.

For the Proposal for Legislative Change to Protect Trafficked Persons in Canada, see:

For more information about the CCR campaign on trafficking in Canada, see:

Heather Heather NeufeldNeufeld is a third year law student at the University of Ottawa who has long been active in promoting refugee and immigrant rights as a volunteer legal advocate, interpreter and researcher.  She became involved in the CCR three years ago to learn more about immigrant and refugee rights issues.  For Heather, joining the CCR was the best way to stay informed and contribute to immigrant and refugee rights advocacy in Canada.

Heather is currently a member of the local organizing committee for the upcoming CCR Fall Consultation ‘Breaking the Barriers to Refugee and Immigrant Rights’ which will be held from 29 November to 1 December in Ottawa.  To her, CCR Consultations are important opportunities for education, meeting fellow advocates and developing shared strategies for future action.

“I want to share the relevance of the CCR’s work with organizations that have not traditionally considered the importance of being well-versed on issues regarding refugees.”  Heather hopes to convince health professionals, social workers and educators to attend the consultation. She also wants to encourage refugee participants to raise issues important to them. As a future refugee lawyer, Heather’s goal is to establish a non-profit organization providing comprehensive services to immigrant and refugee women, including legal assistance, counseling, and shelter.


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