Media Release

For immediate release
31 March 2005


Montreal. The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) today called on the Canadian government to honour the upcoming 20th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Singh decision by implementing the Refugee Appeal Division that is included in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

“Twenty years ago, the Supreme Court reminded us that refugee claimants are human beings with basic rights and that they may need our protection,” said Nick Summers, President.  “Today refugees are denied that protection because the government denies them their right to an appeal. The government has never once been able to put forward a logical principled reason for their failure to do what the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act requires.  The Refugee Appeal Division should be implemented immediately because it is the humane, just, and right thing to do.”

The CCR was shocked to hear that, according to an article in Le Devoir, 22 March 2005, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Joseph Volpe has ruled out implementing the refugee appeal and that he is exploring alternatives to the appeal in the law. Nick Summers responded that “for almost three years the Minister’s predecessors have been saying that they were exploring alternatives and that we would be consulted.  However, we have never even seen or been consulted on any of the options that the government claims it is considering.  It just sounds like another delaying tactic.”

The Singh decision was rendered on 4 April 1985 and the date is celebrated each year in Canada as Refugee Rights Day.  One of the first Charter cases to be decided by the Supreme Court, the Singh decision applied section 7 of the Charter, which declares: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of the person and the right not to be deprived thereof except in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice.”  The Court found that “everyone” includes refugees, and recognized that the refugee determination system must obey the principles of fundamental justice, since refugee claimants’ security of the person might be threatened if deported.  The Court specifically ruled that this means that refugee claimants have a right to an oral hearing before the decision-maker when credibility is at stake.

Activities are being organized in communities across Canada on Monday 4 April to celebrate Refugee Rights Day and the 20th anniversary of the Singh decision.

The Canadian Council for Refugees today published a paper, The Refugee Appeal: Is No One Listening, available at

Nick Summers, President (709) 682-9329
Janet Dench, Executive Director (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)
Catherine Balfour, Communications Coordinator (514) 277-7223 (ext. 1) for information about activities planned locally

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 180 organizations involved in refugee protection and sponsorship and in newcomer settlement. The CCR serves the networking, information-exchange and advocacy needs of its membership.

6839 Drolet #302, Montréal, QC, Canada H2S 2T1 TEL.: (514) 277-7223 FAX : (514) 277-1447