The government is seeking to pass a highly controversial bill (Bill C-4) that would allow the Minister to order the detention and imprisonment of people seeking refugee status. Human smuggling is a serious issue that requires enforcement resources and co-operation with foreign governments to deal with smugglers – but it does not justify constitutional and international law violations.
Our objections to Bill C-4 are based on the following:
- The bill imposes the mandatory incarceration of groups of asylum seekers, including children, who arrive in Canada, even where there is no concern that the individuals present a danger or threat of any kind. The Minister can decide that any group of asylum seekers should be incarcerated upon arrival based on suspicion of smuggling, but also simply on the basis that the process of their identification cannot be done in a “timely manner”. This violates the International Convention on the Status of Refugee which prohibits the imposition of penalties for illegal entry for refugees fleeing persecution.
- The bill prevents any review of the imprisonment and detention by the Immigration Review Board for 12 months. Currently, in compliance with constitutional guarantees, an initial review of whether a detention is warranted is done within 48 hours.
- The bill creates a second class of refugees by denying even people whose refugee status is eventually established rights given to other immigrants: even people whose refugee status is confirmed cannot obtain travel documents nor even apply to become permanent resident for 5 years. This again violates the International Convention which obliges countries to issue travelling documents.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has written to Prime Minister Harper and Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Jason Kenney to express its grave concerns with this bill.
The Canadian Civil Liberties Association has asked that the Bill be withdrawn or amended to meet international obligations. We need your support:
- Donate to our fund to support legal and public education actions to defeat Bill C-4 and protect the right to fair process and against arbitrary detention;
- Add your voice by writing to your MP (click here to find his or her contact info) and the prime minister’s office to let them know Canadians do not want Bill C-4
In partnership with the Maytree Foundation, CCLA hosted a major international conference to explore discrimination and immigration status in Canadian society. (September 2010)
Along with many other groups, CCLA opposed Bill C-49 last fall.
Court cases, advocacy issues, analysis
Additional information and resources on Bill C-4 and the CCR’s ongoing campaign
CBA says Bill C-49 denies rights of refugee claimants