Media release

For immediate release
11 October 2006


Montreal – The Canadian Council for Refugees today called attention to the human impact of the recent government cuts on refugees and immigrants.  The abolition of the Court Challenges Program will deprive vulnerable refugees like Suleyman Goven of a recourse when they face discrimination. 

The Court Challenges Program provides support for legal challenges based on the equality guarantees of the Canadian Charter by vulnerable persons such as refugees, people with disabilities, women, religious minorities and gays and lesbians.

Thanks to support from the Court Challenges Program, Suleyman Goven has recently been able to contest a thirteen-year delay in granting him permanent residence.  Mr Goven was recognized by Canada as a refugee in 1993 but the government refused to give him permanent residence.  In November 2005, Mr Goven filed a lawsuit arguing that the government was violating his Charter right to equality.  This apparently led to him finally receiving permanent residence in September, allowing him to get on with his life after thirteen years on hold.  He will continue the lawsuit in order to seek compensation for the damage done and systemic changes so that others don’t go through what Mr Goven has suffered.

“Like me, many other innocent refugees are caught up in a system without appropriate checks and balances, and without justice,” said Suleyman Goven.  “I will continue my struggle for justice and accountability in the courts of law.  It is unfair of the government to deprive people of this program that supports such struggles for justice.”

Other cuts announced by the federal government on 25 September, such as the cuts to Status of Women Canada, will also weaken the ability of vulnerable members of society to work for full equality in society.

“Through these cuts, the government is turning its back on what we consider one of the most fundamental values of society, namely our shared responsibility to ensure that those who are vulnerable and without voice have access to the same rights and justice as all Canadians,” said Elizabeth McWeeny, CCR President.

The Canadian Council for Refugees has joined numerous other organizations in calling on the federal government to reinstate the Court Challenges Program.


Janet Dench, Executive Director, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)

For more information on Suleyman Goven’s lawsuit, please see Media Release, 8 November 2005 at

For more information about the Court Challenges Program, see

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

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