For immediate release
29 June 2006

Canadian Council for Refugees and Amnesty International calls for stay of removal while threat of torture examined

Montréal – The Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) and Amnesty International today called on the Canadian government to delay the implementation of a removal order against Bachan Singh Sogi as requested by the UN Committee Against Torture, which is examining his case. 

Yesterday Minister of Public Safety Stockwell Day refused to grant Sogi a stay of removal. The CCR is deeply disturbed to learn that the Government of Canada intends to breach its obligation under the UN Convention Against Torture, by deporting Sogi Bachan Singh despite a formal request for interim measures from the Committee against Torture and despite a Pre-Removal Risk Assessment officer's finding that Mr. Sogi faces a risk of torture in India.

The CCR calls on the government to adopt a policy of strict conformity with international human rights law and with the procedures of the treaty bodies whose competence Canada has formally recognized.

In her letter to the Minister today, CCR President Elizabeth McWeeny pointed out that Canada has formally recognized the role of the UN Committee Against Torture and the need to ensure that no person is deported in error to a situation where they face torture.

“Canada has over the years earned a reputation as a defender of human rights and prided itself on its role internationally as a human rights leader.  However, the shameful truth is that Canada has shown itself willing to violate its fundamental human rights obligations by knowingly deporting people to face torture and has shown disrespect for the UN human rights bodies in cases where there is a difference of opinion about the potential risk of torture,” stated Ms McWeeny.

“As a member of the new Human Rights Council, Canada must continue to be a leading and principled champion of measures to substantially strengthen the Council’s role in upholding human rights.  The Sogi Singh decision is particularly disappointing to come at such a time. It reinforces the longstanding practice of numerous governments to consistently flout UN advice and pick and choose when they will conform to international legal obligations,” says Gloria Nafziger, refugee coordinator, Amnesty International Canada.

The Refugee Lawyers Association (Ontario) joins the CCR and Amnesty International in their request to the government.

A copy of the CCR and Amnesty International letters are attached.

Janet Dench, CCR Executive Director, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 2)
Colleen French, CCRCommunications and Networking Coordinator, (514) 277-7223 (ext. 1)
Beth Berton-Hunter, Amnesty International Canada, (416) 904-7158

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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