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Ottawa, Ontario, July 23, 2009 —The Government of Canada announced today that due to improved conditions in Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda, the temporary suspensions of removals to these countries have been lifted, effective immediately.
"After a thorough review of country conditions and consultations with stakeholders, the Government is lifting the suspension of removals to these three countries," said the Honourable Peter Van Loan, Minister of Public Safety. "This decision is in line with the actions of other Western nations that also remove inadmissible individuals to Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda."
"The removal of individuals who are not lawfully in Canada is key to maintaining the integrity of the immigration program and to ensuring fairness for those who live in this country lawfully," added Minister Van Loan.
The temporary suspensions of removals to Haiti, Afghanistan, Iraq, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Zimbabwe are NOT being lifted. The conditions in these countries make it appropriate to continue the existing suspensions.
The Government of Canada may impose temporary suspensions of removals to countries when conditions such as war or environmental disaster endanger the safety and security of the civilian population.
A suspension of removals is always only a temporary measure. It is lifted when conditions in the country improve and there is no longer a generalized risk.
Exceptional humanitarian and compassionate measures have been implemented by the Government of Canada to accommodate individuals affected by the lifting of the temporary suspensions of removals (see backgrounder).
When a temporary suspension of removals is lifted, people who have a refugee claim in process are not removed while their claim is under consideration.
For more information, please visit the Canada Border Services Agency's Web site at www.cbsa.gc.ca.
For information on eligibility criteria and related immigration issues, visit Citizenship and Immigration Canada's Web site at www.cic.gc.ca.
For media information:
Canada Border Services Agency
Recognizing that some individuals affected by the lifting of the temporary suspensions of removals to Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda have been in Canada for a decade or more and may have developed significant ties to this country, the Government of Canada has implemented measures for these individuals.
Of the approximately 2,100 people who could be affected, many have filed refugee claims and will not be removed while their claim is under assessment provided they meet the eligibility criteria. Individuals subject to a removal order, as a result of a failed refugee claim or other circumstances, have the option of applying for permanent residence on humanitarian and compassionate (H&C) grounds in order to remain in Canada. They are also entitled to apply for a pre-removal risk assessment.
To be eligible to stay in Canada individuals must apply for permanent residence on H&C grounds in Canada no later than six months from July 23, 2009 (i.e. on or before January 23, 2010).
Those who have applied for refugee protection on or before July 23, 2009, must apply for permanent residence on H&C grounds no later than six months from the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada’s (IRB) negative decision. In this context, a negative decision is the IRB’s first decision after July 23, 2009, and does not include any avenues of recourse including judicial review before the Federal Court.
In all cases, to be eligible for the measures, individuals must be residing in Canada on July 23, 2009. Individuals from Quebec must be residing in that province on July 23, 2009, and continue to reside there at the time they make their application and during the processing of their application.
Without these measures, once a temporary suspension of removals is lifted, individuals under a removal order could be returned to their home country while their application for permanent residence on H&C grounds is assessed.
A temporary suspension of removals (TSR) prevents removals to a country when conditions such as war or environmental disaster threaten the lives or security of the civilian population. When a TSR is in place, people whose refugee claim is rejected or who are found inadmissible to Canada for another reason, and who would normally be subject to removal, are allowed to stay in Canada temporarily. People under a TSR are allowed to work and go to school.
TSRs do not apply to people who are inadmissible to Canada for criminality or security reasons, participating in organized crime, or violating human or international rights, or to people excluded from refugee protection as per the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. People subject to a TSR may also choose to return to their country voluntarily.
Temporary suspensions of removals are just that — temporary. Once the situation in the country improves, the suspension should be lifted and removals should be reinstated.
The Minister of Public Safety has the authority under Section 230(1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Regulations to impose or lift a TSR based on generalized risk to a civilian population as a result of one of the following:
The Canada Border Services Agency and Citizenship and Immigration Canada review country conditions annually and recommend to the Minister of Public Safety whether to impose or lift a TSR. This process includes consulting other government departments, including Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada, Migration Integrity Officers and Canadian missions abroad, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees.
A TSR is imposed or lifted based on the generalized risk faced by an entirepopulation and not risk to an individual. People who allege individual risk benefit from due process under Canadian law. They have access to a full and fair refugee status determination system, as well as other avenues of recourse, including a pre-removal risk assessment to ensure that returning to their home country does not pose a risk. Failed refugee claimants may also apply for permanent residence in Canada on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.
The TSRs to Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda have been lifted because conditions have improved in these countries and a generalized risk to the civilian population no longer exists. Resuming removals to Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda is in line with the actions of other countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom, which currently remove individuals to these countries.
When the TSRs to Burundi, Liberia and Rwanda were first imposed, there was widespread violence that placed the civilian population of these countries at risk. The conditions in these countries have since improved and they no longer meet the criteria for TSRs. For example:
In Burundi (TSR imposed in 1994):
In Liberia (TSR imposed in 2003):
In Rwanda (TSR imposed in 1994):
Canada will continue to monitor the situation in these countries.