Last Updated: Friday, 19 September 2014, 13:55 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Canada

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees World Refugee Survey 2004 - Canada , 25 May 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/40b45935c.html [accessed 20 September 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

At the end of 2003, Canada hosted about 70,200 refugees and asylum seekers in need of protection. This figure includes about 41,600 pending asylum cases, around 17,700 persons whose asylum claims were accepted, some 190 persons accepted under the Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA) process, and about 10,700 refugees resettled from overseas, 7,500 of whom were government assisted and 3,200 privately sponsored.

During the year, about 31,900 persons applied for asylum, roughly 4 percent fewer than 2002. The Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) accepted about 17,700, and denied about 18,000, for a grant rate of about 44 percent (not counting about 6,800 cases abandoned or withdrawn), a decrease from 58 percent in 2002. The leading sources of new asylum seekers referred to the IRB in 2003 were Pakistan (4,300), Mexico (2,600), Colombia (2,100), Costa Rica (1,800) and China (1,800). Asylum seekers from the following countries had some of the highest approval rates: Colombia (2,000), Sri Lanka (1,700), China (1,300), Pakistan (1,600), and Turkey (740). During 2003, Canada had a moratorium on deportation to Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. However officials could deport individuals with a criminal background, who posed a security threat, or who committed human rights violations from those countries.

New Developments

There were no substantive changes in the refugee determination process in 2003. However, despite a promise made in the parliament in 2002 to have an appeals system in place in a year, the government failed to create one. Citizenship and Immigration Canada attributed the delay in the creation of the appeals board to "pressures within the system" and noted that they were considering the issue of appeals "within the context of a broader review of Canada's approach to refugee protection." The Canadian Council for Refugees, critical of this failure, noted, "Despite the fact that their lives may be at stake, refugee claimant have less rights of appeal than Canadians contesting a parking ticket."

Canada changed its policy towards asylum seekers at the U.S. border in January. Canadian officials directed back asylum claimants to the United States to await appointments to determine eligibility to claim asylum. However unlike in the past, Canadian officials did not seek assurances from U.S. officials that the asylum claimants who were directed back would not be detained in the United States. This policy change largely affected Pakistanis who left the United States to avoid the Special Registration program. The United States detained and deported an unknown number of asylum seekers who were directed back by the Canadians. Others were left to sleep on the streets since agencies near the border that would normally assist those waiting to go to Canada were overwhelmed.

In August, Canada and the United States signed an Annex Regarding the Sharing of Information on Asylum and Refugee Status Claims (Asylum Annex). This agreement allows both governments to share information about refugee claimants systematically and on a case-by-case basis.

In December, the government created the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), which took over the enforcement functions from Citizenship and Immigration Canada, including removals, detention, and investigations. Of concern to many non-governmental agencies is the fact that the CBSA will determine PRRA applications, a protection function – a contradiction for an agency whose primary purpose is detention and deportation. (For more information on the PRRA see http://www.refugees.org/world/countryindex/canada.cfm)

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