NEW SECURITY CERTIFICATE RULES FURTHER REDUCE RIGHTS
26 January 2004
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Montreal. The Canadian Council for Refugees today expressed its opposition to a change in the rules for issuing security certificates. Under the new rules, certificates need only be signed by one Minister, rather than two.
"This change was introduced in a completely undemocratic manner,"said Nick Summers, CCR President. "The law was effectively amended, without any consultation, whether of Parliament or of anyone else. Now non-citizens in Canada can be consigned to the unfair security certificate process on the say-so of just one person."
The CCR considers the security certificate process unfair because those affected are not entitled to see the evidence being used against them. Unless they are permanent residents, they are also subject to mandatory detention. According to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a certificate must be signed by both the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration and the Solicitor General. An Order in Council passed on 12 December 2003 transferred this responsibility of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration to the Deputy Prime Minister, who is also the Solicitor General.
"Reducing the requirement to only one minister increases the likelihood that mistakes will be made and innocent individuals will suffer a travesty of injustice," said Rula Sharkawi of the Canadian Arab Federation. "We need a system of checks and balances where the civil and human rights are protected. The new process for issuing security certificates does not do that."
This latest change continues the trend in reducing ever further the rights of refugees and immigrants under the security certificate process. Amendments introduced in 2002 cut out a right of appeal for permanent residents. A security certificate is reviewed by a Federal Court judge, whose decision is final and not appealable.
"We are seeing a further erosion of basic rights," said Roch Tassé, coordinator of the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group. "The government should be reforming security certificates with a view to restoring due process, not making them easier to issue."
The Prime Minister announced in December that Citizenship and Immigration Canada is responsible for protecting the interests of refugees and immigrants, yet the signature of the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration is no longer required for a security certificate. "So who is protecting the interests of the affected refugee or immigrant when a security certificate is being considered?" asked Nick Summers.
Nick Summers, President, 709-753-7860 (ext. 333) or cell. 709-682-9329
Janet Dench, Executive Director, 514-277-7223
Roch Tassé, International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group, 613-241-5298
Rula Sharkawi, Canadian Arab Federation, 416-493-8635 (ext 22)
The Canadian Council for Refugees is a non-profit umbrella organization committed to the rights and protection of refugees in Canada and around the world and to the settlement of refugees and immigrants in Canada. The membership is made up of over 175 organizations involved in refugee sponsorship and protection and in newcomer settlement. The CCR serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.