We have written about the proposed refugee reforms and our concerns about them here
Below is an update on further developments:
On Tuesday, Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney announced that his proposed overhaul of the Canadian refugee system could very well become law within one month, depending on whether the Liberal Party would support the Conservative law.
Sources had told the Globe and Mail that the Liberal Leader Michael Ignatieff and the Liberal immigration critic Maurizio Bevilacqua were planning on endorsing the bill, which they will discuss Wednesday in Parliament. Amendments by the Liberal party are expected to be added to the bill.
These changes include the goal of processing claims within 15 days as opposed to the originally proposed eight days, as well as having the case heard by an Immigration Review Board within 90 days, as opposed to the originally proposed 60 days.
While the Liberal government has slightly increased the deadlines put forth by Minister Kenney, it is still a very short time span for the refugee to state their case for asylum and explain why they can’t go back to their home country, where they could be facing torture or death.
Chair of the Ontario-based Refugee Lawyer’s Association also told the Globe and Mail that “it’s the most vulnerable of claimants who will be hurt by this. (Imagine) survivors of torture having to tell their story in that fifteen-day period to a government official.”
The RLA also released a press release at the end of March expressing their concern over the reform to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, or Bill C-11 as it is also known. While the immense delays and backlogs needs to be cleared up, if the Bill is passed this fast-tracking will come at the expense of the rights of the refugees for whom it may be a life or death situation.
Also, access to justice for those from selected countries will be unavailable because of the “safe country” list. Civil servants will also be at the helm of the appeal process for the refugees, and civil servants may not have the proper credentials or impartialness to render a fair decision.
While the process will become more organized and streamlined, those refugees who are fleeing from countries where they are persecuted, face death or are tortured can reasonably be expected to be less organized and need more time to put together their case, otherwise their one shot at receiving compassion that Canada is known for will be wasted.
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