Liberal plan to fast-track journalist refugees is running out of time

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Marco Mendicino, right, became Prime Minister of Canada with Justin Trudeau after being sworn in as Minister of Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship during Trudeau’s Cabinet presentation in Ottawa, Ottawa on November 20, 2019.

Blair Gable / Reuters

A federal government promised to ensure that foreign journalists and human rights campaigners are welcomed into Canada as refugees are not put into action, and observers worry that a lower chance of an election means the liberals will lose their Cannot survive for the commitment until the end of the year.

In late 2019, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau appointed MP Marco Mendicino as Minister of Immigration and instructed him in a mandate letter that “a dedicated to providing a safe haven to put human rights advocates, journalists and humanitarian activists at risk Introduce the refugee stream. “

A year and a half later, the initiative to bring 250 such refugees to Canada every year has materially failed. The federal government says it is still talking to stakeholder groups to exclude details, in the hope that officials can finalize the program by the end of this year.

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A spokesman for Immigration, Refugee and Citizenship Canada, Peter Liang said, “In line with his mandate letter, Minister Mendicino included 250 spaces with applications earlier this year.” “We continue to engage with foreign and domestic partners as we move forward to fully implement this commitment in the coming months.”

Yet some stakeholder groups with whom the government is arguing are running out.

Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugee, says, “I think they have completed their work to meet the 2021 goal, because there are still a lot of issues to be worked on.”

Peter Sholler, who chairs the PEN Canada Writers-in-Peril Committee, is also in talks with government officials. He worries that a possible fall may derail the election initiative. “If there is an electoral call, and the program is not implemented, well, then, those mandatory provisions may inevitably be overturned.”

Canada has long accepted journalists and human rights activists among the thousands of refugees it accepts in the country each year. But behind the program announced in 2019, the government hopes to create a special category for the claimants that may fall through the rift.

Mr. Sholler is welcoming the prospect of Canada as a possible example of Turkish journalists who are in a position to flee after President Recep Erdogan’s attack on civil society.

“There are about 250 journalists now in jail” in Turkey, Mr. Scholler said. “Well, there are many of those who tried to get out and were not able to get out. Some are lacking in places… where they have been living without status and have been for two or three or four years. “

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Mr Scholler, who is also the former chairman of the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board, said that under the new program, groups like PEN Canada can help especially for displaced or endangering people because their writings or rights have given them Was hired. Collision course with oppressive regimes.

Several groups will be prepared to help the federal government make such determinations.

Amnesty International Canada “welcomes Canada’s commitment to a new refugee stream,” said Jackie Henson, a gender-rights campaigner with that group.

Unlike standard immigration procedures, the federal refugee determination system generally does not consider professional classes when assessing who should be admitted to Canada.

For this reason, some stakeholders are wary about the government down this road. “As the government accepts, the defenders of human rights have already resettled in Canada. [they are just not separately categorized so can’t be counted], Said Ms. Dench in the Refugee Council.

She said she appreciates the additional places opening up for refugees, but “we are concerned that the new category appears to be leveling up within the resettlement program, with those processed under this category benefiting [apparently] Fast processing and additional support after arrival in Canada. “

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