Even though the Balanced Refugee Reform Act has not been implemented as of yet, a new bill has been introduced to Parliament dealing with refugees. This bill will make it tougher for refugee claimants in Canada to gain refugee protection. The CBC reports here that this new legislation will do the following:
- The immigration minister would have power to place countries on the safe country list without benefit of a committee that was to include human-rights experts. The committee would be scrapped.
- Claimants from countries on the safe country list whose claims are rejected would no longer be allowed to appeal the decision to a new appeals body within the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB).
- Claimants from countries on the safe country list would have to wait a full year to apply for humanitarian and compassionate consideration to become permanent residents, which would take into account issues of personal hardship. In the interim, they could be deported.
- Claimants from countries on the safe country list would be allowed to ask for a judicial review by the Federal Court, but there will be no stay of their deportation pending a decision. That means failed applicants could be deported before the court rules on their case.
The problem with the safe country list is that it may cause certain people to have their cases overlooked because they come from a so-called “safe country”. This list is even more problematic when its compilation is not done with the input of human rights experts. The aforementioned CBC article mentions the Roma. The Roma are one group of people that could be adversely affected by this new legislation. Romani people face discrimination based on their ethnic group. This discrimination can possibly be considered persecution under Refugee Law. If these people happen to come from a country that is deemed “safe”, they will not have the option to appeal to the Immigration and Refugee Board if their claim is rejected. While they can appeal for judicial review, it is not an ideal method of dealing with refugee claims. Judicial review is very limited and is focused more on the procedures of a decision than a normal appeal is.