Joint Statement on Refugee Appeal Division

World Refugee Day June 20, 2005

            As we mark World Refugee Day today, Amnesty International, KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives and the Canadian Council for Refugees insist that the Canadian refugee determination system must include an appeal process to review negative refugee decisions. An appeal of a quasi-judicial nature, on the merits and conducted independently, is a necessary element for any fair refugee determination system.

            The appeal on the merits is essential to ensure that refugees in Canada are treated fairly. The absence of an appeal has been recognized as a fundamental flaw in the Canadian refugee determination system by both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees.  

            With the passing of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act in 2001, we  welcomed the fact that the new Act established the Refugee Appeal Division. However, the Refugee Appeal Division has never been implemented.  In passing the Act, Parliament accepted a certain refugee determination process.  Removing the right to appeal a negative decision significantly alters the Act, is not in keeping with decisions made by legislators, and does not respect the democratic process. 

            The current review mechanisms are inadequate to protect refugees.  Denying refugee claimants the right to an appeal has grave consequences: it can result in refugees being sent back to face persecution and even torture or death in their home country.

            The Canadian government has continued to fail to enact the provisions under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act that would provide asylum seekers with a full appeal against a decision denying them refugee status. Canada has a responsibility to protect refugees.  Our current refugee determination process does not conform with international protection standards.  Canada must implement the Refugee Appeal Division. 

Amnesty International

KAIROS: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives

Canadian Council for Refugees