The British Columbia Supreme Court has struck down a human smuggling statute in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, because it could result in refugee’s family members and humanitarian workers facing criminal charges for human smuggling.
The Act was recently amended to make it tougher on human smugglers, who rarely set foot in Canada. The changes drew plenty of criticism from human rights organizations because while the changes were geared towards severely punishing human smugglers who bring refugees to Canada, they also violate the human rights of many refugees who come to Canada every year.
While the specific section, section 117 (which makes it a crime to help someone come to Canada without the proper paperwork) was not changed, this act by the British Columbia Supreme Court could mean that the Act needs rewriting.
Two men were on trial in British Columbia, accused of human smuggling after arriving in Canada via the Ocean Lady, along with 72 other people as refugees. The trials are now on hold as the British Columbia Supreme Court has indicated the section is way too “broad”.
The government is expected to appeal and take the chance to rewrite the law, because if they do not appeal it would make it legal to help people come to Canada without the proper documents.
More on this can be found in this Vancouver Sun column, available here.
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