MONTREAL – The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) called today on the government to respect its own commitment to accountability by implementing the refugee appeal, on this fourth anniversary of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, a law that was intended by Parliament to give refugees an appeal.
“Accountable government means respecting the laws passed in Parliament by the elected representatives of Canadian citizens,” said Amy Casipullai, CCR Vice-President. “Yet for the past four years, the Canadian government has been flouting the law that gives refugee claimants a right to appeal. As a result, contrary to the will of Parliament, the Canadian government has been deporting people whose refugee claim was determined by a single fallible human being, with no right of appeal on the merits.”
The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, passed by Parliament in 2001, included a compromise that involved reducing the number of decision-makers hearing a refugee claim from two to one in exchange for the introduction of the refugee appeal. In 2002, without consulting Parliament, the Liberal government subverted the will of Parliament by implementing the reduction in decision-makers but not the refugee appeal. The Liberals also broke the promise of Minister Denis Coderre to implement the appeal within a year. Despite the priority it gives to government accountability, the Conservative government continues to flout the law.
“Refugee decisions are often very difficult to make, particularly when assessing the credibility of the refugee claimant,” said Peter Showler, former Chairperson of the Immigration and Refugee Board and author of the recently published Refugee Sandwich: Stories of Exile and Asylum. “The government’s failure to implement the Refugee Appeal Division is profoundly undemocratic and some genuine refugees have undoubtedly been lost in the asylum shuffle. This is not just an issue about legal process. In the refugee business bad policy destroys individual lives.”
The CCR calls on all Members of Parliament to support Bill C-280, introduced by the Bloc Québécois, which calls for the immediate implementation of the refugee appeal.
For more information about the government’s non-respect of the law, see the CCR report, The Refugee Appeal: Is no one listening?, 31 March 2005, at http://www.ccrweb.ca/refugeeappeal.pdf. The text of Bill C-280 is at http://www.parl.gc.ca/39/1/parlbus/chambus/house/bills/private/C-280/C-280_1/C-280-3E.html
Contact:Janet Dench, Executive Director, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)