Media Release
For Immediate Release

12 April 2007


Groups appalled at Canada’s disregard for UN Committee Against Torture decision


Montréal – Human rights and refugee rights groups today 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.

“We are shocked that a Canadian official should treat a decision of a UN human rights body with such disregard,” said Elizabeth McWeeny, President of the Canadian Council for Refugees.  “We need a strong and clear message from the government that international human rights institutions are to be respected.”

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.

“This development is alarming on two levels,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada (English Speaking Branch).  “First, clearly, it is disturbing to see such cavalier disregard for Canada’s international obligation to protect Mr. Falcon Rios from torture.  And secondly, at a time when vital efforts to improve the United Nations human rights system hang in the balance, this attitude shamefully undermines that crucial reform effort.  Canada must do better.”

The Canadian Council for Refugees, Amnesty International, RIVO (Intervention network for people having been subjected to organized violence) and the Table de concertation des organismes au service des personnes réfugiées et immigrantes (TCRI) have sent a joint letter 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.

A copy of the letter is available. The 2004 Committee Against Torture decision is CAT/C/33/D/133/1999.  

Canada’s lack of respect for the UN Committee Against Torture was also evidenced by their disregard of the Committee’s request to stay the removal of Bachan Singh Sogi.

Janet Dench, CCR Executive Director, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)
Colleen French, CCR Communications Coordinator, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 1)
Beth Berton-Hunter, Amnesty International Canada, (416) 904-7158
Richard Goldman, Refugee Protection Coordinator, TCRI, (514) 272-6060 (ext. 5)