Human Rights Watch has posted an open letter to Prime Minister Stephen Harper and other federal party leaders on what they are calling human rights priorities in Canada.
Along with things like regulating the activities of Canadian mining and oil companies abroad and preventing pregnancy-related deaths in developing nations, Human Rights Watch says that “processing refugee claims efficiently” should be a top priority for the Canadian government, “while ensuring that Charter rights and due process rights of refugee claimants are protected”.
The Balanced Refugee Reform Act has a provision that allows the immigration minister to decide if a country is safe or not, resulting in refugees whose claims could be determined by where they come from, not from their individual circumstances or stories.
“It is impossible to make a blanket determination that any country is safe for anyone, and the criteria by which the minister would make such a determination are unclear.” says the letter.
Proposed amendments to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act under Bill C-49 include mandatory detention for those who arrive irregularly (like on a boat) as opposed to going after the smugglers themselves. The letter says this is “intended to deter groups that may include some of the world’s most vulnerable refugees, such a boat people, from seeking asylum in Canada.” The letter goes on to recommend against introducing the new measures.
The letter in its entirety can be found here:
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