Bill C-31 is set to come into effect this summer, with a safe countries list intact. This list was one of the provisions that had to be removed in order for the bill to finally pass, but now that the Conservative government has a majority they put this provision (and a few others) back in.
What is a safe countries list?
A countries on the safe countries list are countries that have a high rate of rejected refugee claims in Canada. This assumes that since most of the refugee claims from these countries are denied, the majority of the claims must be frivolous and the countries are probably safe to live in.
Mexico, with its nearly 83 per cent refugee claim rejection rate in 2011, will be one of these “safe countries”.
One of the problems with a seemingly “safe” country list is that it doesn’t take into account an individual refugee’s situation. A straight man may be able to live in a safe country free from harm, but a gay man might face persecution, violence and the threat of death, for example. Nor does it take into account a person fleeing domestic abuse as this CBC article points out.
The article tells the story of a Mexican woman who had her refugee claim denied and was then deported. Three days after arriving back in Mexico, she was murdered at the age of 41.
What does it mean to be a refugee from a “safe country”?
The safe countries list divides refugees into two categories. Those who are from safe countries will have no ability to appeal their decision, and a smaller time frame to have their case heard – and to find shelter, acquire legal counsel and prepare their claim. For all updates and news on the bill, visit Open Parliament.
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