Tag Archives: canadian refugee law

Canadian Refugee Law 101 – Essential Resources

19 Oct

The recent interest in Canadian refugee law, sparked by the arrival of a boat full of Sri Lankan migrants off the west coast of Canada, has led to a renewed debate about whether Canada is too “lax” about refugees.

An important element missing from the debate is a basic understanding of  how the refugee process works in Canadian law. Below is a basic list of resources (web sites) to learn more about this topic.

1.0 The basic legal framework for Canadian refugee law is contained in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.

2.0 Canada’s international obligations to protect refugees arise from the 1951 Refugee Convention and its 1967 Protocol, which Canada became a party to on June 4, 1969.

3.0 A great resource to understanding how Canada’s refugee process works is the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada website.

4.0 The Canadian Council for Refugees website advocates on behalf of refugees in Canada and does an excellent job of highlighting the key issues which refugees face.

5.0 Canadian refugee law does not operate within a vacuum but is influenced by and influences the body of international refugee law. There are numerous sites which place Canadian refugee law within an international context. Some sites of note are a Guide to International Refugee Law Resources on the web by Elisa Mason. Ms. Mason has also prepared other resource guides on the topic of refugee law which are detailed and useful.

6.0 The website of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is, of course, an essential website for anyone trying to understand the complex laws and processes which govern the rights of refugees.

The above list is only a beginning but should provide a basic overview.

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Deportations on the increase

13 Oct

A recent story in the media notes that deportations from Canada are on the increase. In a recent report, the Canada Border Services Agency noted that deportations from Canada had increased from 8,361 in 1999 to 12,732 in 2008. This is not surprising given the increased enforcement powers provided in the Immigration and Refugee Protecion Act (IRPA) in June 2002 and the creation of the Canada Border Services Agency in December 2003.

A brief review of the CBSA’s Reports on Plans and Priorites for 2005-2006 and 2009-2010, shows that spending on the enforcement area was projected to rise from approximately $158,729,000 (in 2004-05) to $326,392,000 (in 2006-07) to $367,145,000 (in 2011-12). The reports are at the CBSA site.

Critics of this heightened focus on enforcement (including myself) have often raised concerns about the fairness of the deportation process and the human rights risks which deportees face upon return to their countries of origin. This is not to say that no one should be deported but rather, that in many cases, the process followed makes it impossible for failed refugee claimants, overstays and others to get the facts of their case before a decision maker.

Janet Dench, Executive Director, of the Canadian Council for Refugees notes:

The Canadian Council for Refugees says the figures debunk the widely held notion that Canada is a haven for asylum seekers.

“This totally contradicts people who continue to say in the media that claimants are never deported from Canada. Once you put your foot on Canadian soil, you can stay here forever,” said Janet Dench, the council’s executive director.

“These facts contradict it and that’s what people who work with refugees know — that this is a daily business, a daily experience that claimants are very routinely removed from Canada.”

Refugee advocates and others have repeatedly noted that in the context of failed refugee claimants, the decision making process of the Immigration and Refuge Board is flawed.