Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 September 2014, 12:56 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Canada

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 14 June 2006
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2006 - Canada , 14 June 2006, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4496ad072.html [accessed 17 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.

Refoulement/Physical Protection

There were no reports of refoulement. Citizenship and Immigration Canada (CIC) conducted pre-removal risk assessments before deporting anyone not already a refugee or otherwise protected. During fiscal year 2004-2005, Canada deported 8,700 failed asylum seekers. In 2004, Canada suspended removals to Afghanistan, Burundi, Congo-Kinshasa, Haiti, Iraq, Liberia, Rwanda, and Zimbabwe. It did not suspend deportations for those individuals with criminal backgrounds or those who posed security risks or had committed human rights violations. Canada resumed deportations to Somalia and Sri Lanka it had suspended earlier.

Canada's refugee protection system consisted of two main components: the Refugee and Humanitarian Resettlement Program for those outside the country, and the In-Canada Refugee Protection Process for those within Canada and at border points.

CIC selected refugees abroad for resettlement based on referrals from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and private sponsors, or in the case of designated source countries (Congo-Kinshasa, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Sierra Leone, and Sudan), through direct application at Canadian missions. For those applying for refugee status from abroad, visa officers ultimately decided their claims. For those seeking asylum from within Canada, the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) decided refugee claims. The IRB granted rejected asylum seekers the right to an appeal but there was no mechanism to hear them so rejectees' only recourse was to the Federal Court, which rarely accepted them. Amnesty International urged Canada to implement an appeals process it outlined in 2002 but had not yet put into practice.

In December 2004, Canada and the United States implemented the Agreement for the Cooperation in the Examination of Refugee Status Claims by Nationals of Third Countries, also known as the Safe Third Country Agreement. The Agreement stipulated that if asylum seekers traveled between Canada and the United States by land, they had to seek asylum in the country where they first arrived. This significantly reduced the number of asylum claims in Canada, particularly by Colombians. During the year, Canada refused to hear 280 asylum claims because of this agreement.

Every refugee and asylum seeker had the right to legal counsel, but the Government administered legal aid at the provincial level and it was not available in all parts of Canada.

In July, Canada mistakenly sold computer tapes containing data on 30,000 refugee claimants from 1999 and before. The buyer turned the tapes over to a newspaper, and the Government promised a full investigation.

Detention/Access to Courts

Canada issued Security Certificates, which purported to create an expedited process for removing dangerous persons. The certificates allowed for the indefinite detention of permanent residents, refugees, and temporary visitors without the right to view their own charges. From late June until September, an Egyptian refugee to whom Canada granted refugee status in 1996 went on a hunger strike in prison, where he had been in detention for more than five years for suspected links to terrorism. Four other detained refugees, including a Syrian, joined him. Amnesty International, the Canadian Council of Refugees, and other nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) demanded cessation of the policy.

During FY 2004-2005 Canada detained 4,700 asylum seekers out of 24,000 who made claims. The Canadian Red Cross and UNHCR had access to the detainees.

The 2001 Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) gave immigration officers authority to detain foreign nationals and permanent residents they later found inadmissible and any non-citizens who failed to establish their identity. The IRB could hear appeals of detention decisions but could not intervene if CIC doubted an asylum seeker's identity. The Vancouver-based NGO Mosaic reported an increase in cases of detention on identity grounds since the implementation of the IRPA.

Freedom of Movement and Residence

Canada allowed refugees and asylum seekers to move freely within the country. The IRPA entitled refugees and protected persons to documents indicating their status. In 2003 and 2004, Canada issued nearly 6,000 Refugee Travel Documents and, from April 2004 to January 2005, about 3,800.

Right to Earn a Livelihood

Following the filing of their asylum claims and a medical exam, refugees could apply for work permits. Obtaining a work permit required considerable paperwork, including completing a Determination of Eligibility Form, applying for a Social Insurance number, and submitting a Personal Information Form.

CIC officers could impose, vary, or cancel conditions on work permits, including the type of employment, the employer, location, and hours worked. Refugees had the legal right to hold title to and transfer businesses, land, and other capital assets.

Public Relief and Education

The Canadian government offered several assimilation programs for refugees, including housing assistance, financial orientation, and supplemental income. Other programs included loans and health services. Refugees could also apply for provincial social assistance and received provincial health insurance.

The IRPA stipulated that foreign minors did not need authorization to study at the pre-school through secondary school level unless they were children of temporary residents not authorized to work or study in Canada. Refugee children had access to the same primary education as Canadians.

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