6839 Drolet #302, Montréal, QC, Canada H2S 2T1 ccr@web.net TÉL.: (514) 277-7223 FAX: (514) 277-1447


18 October 2002

The Canadian Council for Refugees today encouraged Bill Graham, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, to continue to protest vigorously the US government's treatment of Maher Arar, the Canadian citizen deported to Syria by the US.

Canada is currently preparing to sign a "safe third country" agreement with the US, according to which the US would be declared a "safe country" for refugees.  "If Canadian citizens are not safe in the US," said Kemi Jacobs, President, "how can we argue that the US is safe for refugees?  If this is how the US treats a Canadian citizen, who has the backing of the government of Canada, the US's biggest trading partner, we can only imagine how they treat refugee claimants, who have no government to speak for them."

The CCR notes that Mr Arar was treated as he was because he came to Canada as an immigrant, rather than being born a citizen in Canada.  The message that the US is sending is that they don't ever intend to treat as full Canadian citizens those who come as immigrants and refugees to our country.  "We hope that the Canadian government will tell the US loudly and clearly that all Canadian citizens are equal and must be treated equally," commented Kemi Jacobs.

The discriminatory treatment by the US government of Muslims and of nationals of Islamic countries is becoming ever clearer.  "It is deeply disturbing that Canada is preparing to send refugee claimants back to the US, including Muslim claimants, knowing as we do that the US is openly discriminating against certain nationalities," said Kemi Jacobs.

For more information, please contact:

Kemi Jacobs, President  416-588-6288
Janet Dench, Executive Director 514-277-7223