The Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council of Churches are asking the Supreme Court of Canada to determine whether the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement is unconstitutional and violates refugees’ rights.
On Friday 26 September, the three organizations, along with John Doe, filed an application with the Supreme Court seeking leave to appeal the Federal Court of Appeal’s ruling on the Safe Third Country Agreement. The appeal court overturned an earlier Federal Court decision which struck down the Agreement, on the grounds that the United States does not comply with international human rights obligations.
The submissions highlight that refugees’ lives are at risk, as illustrated by the case of a Honduran man. Turned away from the Canadian border in 2006 due to Safe Third, he was quickly deported by the US to Honduras, where he was soon afterwards killed by the people he had been fleeing. But for the Safe Third Country Agreement, he would likely be alive and living in Canada today, with his wife and his son, who was born after his death.
The organizations argue that the Federal Court of Appeal:
- Based its decision on technicalities, thus failing to address the key Charter and human rights issues.
- Incorrectly interpreted the law to allow Cabinet to designate a country as safe even when it clearly is not, thus violating international legal obligations towards refugees.
- Misunderstood what actually happens at the border when a refugee claimant is rejected under the agreement, and thereby wrongly concluded that an individual claimant could mount a legal challenge.
The organizations and John Doe launched the legal challenge of the Safe Third Country Agreement in December 2005. Under the Agreement, most refugee claimants arriving in Canada at the US border are ineligible to make a claim in Canada. The organizations argued that some of those denied entry to Canada are not able to receive protection in the US, because the US does not comply with its international obligations towards refugees. The Federal Court upheld those arguments. The Federal Court of Appeal did not dispute that finding: instead it ruled that the lower court’s conclusion “that the US does not 'actually' comply is irrelevant.”
For the submission to the Supreme Court, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/STCA-SCC-leave.pdf
For more information on the Canada-US Safe Third Country Agreement and CCR actions, see: http://ccrweb.ca/S3C.htm.
From 27 to 29 November 2008, refugee and immigrant rights advocates from across Canada will be gathering in Toronto for the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) Fall 2008 Consultation.
The consultation is an excellent opportunity for all interested to exchange ideas on barriers refugees and newcomers to Canada face before, at and after their arrival in Canada. Consultation participants include: refugees, immigrants, representatives of NGOs, youth advocates, government, UNHCR, academics and international guests.
Consultation discussions will address issues that challenge refugees, immigrants, advocates and community workers. In addition to larger plenary sessions, workshops and working sessions will produce strategies for further collaboration and specific actions.
Topics addressed at this consultation include:
- Examining the impact of refugee resettlement on those left behind
- Addressing power relations between ourselves and those we serve
- Providing services to trafficked persons
- Respecting the rights of temporary workers
- Building local media strategies to raise issues affecting refugees and immigrants
- pushing for Canada’s compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child
- Providing psychosocial support for torture survivors
...and many more
Information about the consultation and online registration forms are now available at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/eng/about/meetings.htm.
Register before 7 November to take advantage of the reduced fees!
Thirty years ago, 23 people gathered at a meeting to form the Canadian Council for Refugees, out of a conviction that those who care about refugees need to work together to make sure they receive protection and a warm welcome in this country.
Thirty years later, the Canadian Council for Refugees, with its 180 organizational members, is well-established as a national voice for the protection of refugees in Canada and around the world, and for the settlement of refugees and immigrants. The CCR has earned a reputation as a forceful and effective advocate for refugees and other newcomers, especially the most vulnerable.
The gala, which will take place Thursday 27 November in Toronto, will provide an ideal opportunity to celebrate the tremendous contributions that have been made through the CCR and its member organizations over its 30 year history. These contributions have affected the lives of thousands of refugees and immigrants and helped make Canada a safe haven for the displaced and a country enriched by its new citizens.
Please participate by attending yourself, buying a table, selling tickets and/or providing sponsorship.
For more information about the gala, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/30anniv/gala.pdf Order gala tickets online at: https://ccrweb.ca/en/gala
Celebrate the CCR’s 30th anniversary in your local community: For more information about the CCR’s 30th anniversary and ideas for celebrating in your community, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/30anniv/home.htm or click on the CCR 30th anniversary logo at: http://www.ccrweb.ca.
A federal election has been called for October 14th. Let’s use this opportunity to bring issues affecting refugees and immigrants to candidates and to voters!
The CCR sent a list of questions to all major political parties to learn their positions on key issues for refugees and immigrants in Canada. This list of key questions and some background information is available on the CCR website at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/elections.htm
You’ll also find a short list of suggested actions for using these questions in your area. We encourage you to ask questions to your local political candidates during public meetings, during radio call-in shows, in emails to their campaign offices and much more. For additional ideas, check out the suggested actions at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/electionactions.htm
Unfortunately the CCR received no concrete answers from any of the political parties by the deadline that we set. We will be posting any answers at http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/elections.htm as we receive them.
(Editor note: We have just received responses to the CCR’s questions from the New Democratic Party (NDP). These will be posted online shortly.)
- State of Refugees in Canada: An introduction to refugee and immigrant issues in Canada (booklet)
Great for general audiences and those unfamiliar with refugee and immigrant rights in Canada! This 8-page booklet provides an overview of Canada’s role in protecting and resettling refugees, the rights of non-citizens, settlement and integration issues, the need for speedy family reunification and protection for trafficked persons. Illustrated with photos from CCR member organizations, fast facts to bust myths about refugees and immigrants, statistics and charts to help navigate Canada’s refugee determination system.
Order printed copies from the CCR office using the order form at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/publicationsorderform.pdf
Or download printable copies from the CCR’s Public Education webpage at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/state-of-refugees.pdf
- Hidden Costs: Paying back the refugee transportation loan (DVD)
A 15-minute video exposing the burden and painful impact of transportation loans on individual refugees, their families and on Canadian society. Produced with the Strategic Alliance for the Advancement of Immigrant and Refugee Children and Youth (SAAIRCY - Edmonton), this film is part of a national campaign to have the Canadian government eliminate transportation loans for refugees.
To order copies of the ‘Hidden Costs’ DVD from the CCR office, using the order form at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/documents/publicationsorderform.pdf
‘Hidden Costs’ is one of the tools in the CCR’s campaign for the elimination of refugee transportation loans. For more information on the campaign, check out the webpage at: http://www.ccrweb.ca/transportationloans.htm We will be updating this page frequently in the coming days and weeks. Check back for campaign actions!
- CCR Public Education webspace
Looking for general information about refugees and immigrants?
Need materials and actions to use at an upcoming community event?
Want some pamphlets or short videos on specific issues for a table display?
Searching for some fast facts about refugees and immigrants in Canada for your next presentation?
Check out the *new* Public Education page on the CCR website for materials to reach out on issues affecting refugees and immigrants: http://ccrweb.ca/en/public_education
Put together a toolkit tailored to your needs using the search feature that allows you to browse through the resource bank! Most resources on the Public Education webpage can be downloaded from the Internet. Some are also available on order from the CCR office (Use the ‘Order Form’ option on the lefthand menu).
We will be adding to these Public Education resources frequently, so keep checking back for updates! Questions? Send an email to: email@example.com
- Campaign for Iraqi refugees
The CCR has long called for an increased Canadian response to the Iraqi refugee crisis in the Middle East. So far, the Canadian government’s response has been minimal.
Join the Canadian Council for Refugees in calling for an increased Canadian response to the Iraqi refugee crisis. Endorse the CCR position statement and urge your Member of Parliament to join the call for increased resettlement of Iraqi refugees to Canada.
For more information on the CCR’s campaign for the resettlement of Iraqi refugees in Canada, see: http://www.ccrweb.ca/iraq.htm
Leo Zuniga is a School Settlement Worker for Thorncliffe Neighbourhood Office in Toronto. Since coming to Canada in 2004, he has volunteered and worked with several refugee and immigrant rights groups in the Toronto area, including Supporting Our Youth (SOY). Leo first became involved with the CCR at the 2006 Fall Consultation in Montreal as a panellist on the settlement of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender refugee and immigrant youth.
Since then, Leo has been involved in the CCR Youth Network and in numerous local projects. He hopes that his actions inspire others to advocate for everyone looking to live with dignity and safety. “Canada is a great nation, but a lot still needs to be done for a fairer and more equitable system for refugees and immigrants. You don’t need to have experience - you can learn on the road, but you need to have a passion for human rights and for the rights of refugees and immigrants in Canada.”
For Leo, being involved in the Local Organizing Committee for the CCR Fall Consultation in Toronto (27 – 29th November 2008) means giving back to the CCR. For him, it means continuing a tradition of bringing together advocates and community members from across Canada as a way to raise awareness and to work for a fairer and more equitable immigration system.
And if you’re new to the CCR? Leo strongly recommends participating in the upcoming Consultation: “You’ll meet many people from different walks of life, people who are willing to introduce you to the CCR and its different activities within CCR Working Groups, the CCR Youth Network and how to bring issues to the attention of government officials.”
Do you know someone who should be profiled as a ‘Face of the CCR’? Send your suggestions to Colleen French at: firstname.lastname@example.org