Canada: government efforts welcomed
UNHCR is studying a new draft Canadian Immigration Act which was tabled in Canada's Parliament yesterday. At a time when many countries are introducing restrictive measures, we welcome efforts being made by the Canadian government to ensure that its refugee system is both fair and expeditious. We are particularly gratified that the Minister has proposed introducing an appeal on the merits into the Canadian refugee status determination system, an element which has long been lacking and which UNHCR and NGOs have long called for.
Another positive step is the proposal for a consolidated protection decision, which will take into account Canada's obligations under the 1984 UN Convention against Torture as well as under the 1951 Refugee Convention. Other proposed measures are aimed at facilitating the reunification of refugee families, recognizing that getting the family back together is very important in the integration process. In studying the draft bill and preparing comments, we will, however, be looking carefully at measures which could restrict access to the asylum procedure or result in increased detention of asylum seekers.
UNHCR urges Canada to maintain its humanitarian tradition of open access to refugee status determination mechanisms and to avoid detaining persons who are seeking refugee protection in Canada.