None is too many: Asylum in Canada necessary until EU can guarantee safety
Roma Community Centre is very concerned about Canada’s recent decision to
shut the door on Czech Roma and Mexican refugees. Immigration Minister Jason
Kenny thinks that Roma don’t face state-sanctioned persecution in the Czech
As a signatory to the UN Declaration of Human Rights, Canada has now
taken a decision that both flouts international law and the documented
reports of systemic persecution of Roma in Czech Republic. Yet Amnesty
International stated in April that Roma in the Czech Republic “continue to
suffer discrimination at the hands of both public officials and private
individuals, including in the areas of housing, education, health care and
employment. Not only do they face forced evictions, segregation in
education and racially motivated violence, but they have been denied
justice when seeking redress for the abuses against them”.
Human Rights Watch reported that since 1989, “Czech authorities have
failed to adequately protect Roma from the ever-increasing danger of
racist attacks. When attacks do occur, Roma are often denied equal
treatment before the law, a direct violation of both Czech and
Minister Kenney states that claimants from the Czech Republic and Mexico
are clogging the system, are preventing “legitimate” claimants from
getting in to Canada, and that an overhaul of the system is necessary
because it is overburdened. Yet the total number of refugee claimants
arriving in Canada has decreased from 45,000 in 2001 to approximately
36,000 in 2008. The total number of refugees accepted annually in
Canada has been cut in half, compared to the 1980s. The system isn’t
working because of inadequate resources. Imposing visas on visitors
from these two countries will not increase the number of claimants
accepted from totalitarian regimes as the Minister implies, especially
when those countries already have visa restrictions in place.
Minister Kenney calls Czech Roma refugee claims fraudulent. When the
independent adjudicators of the IRB accepted 85% of their claims during
the last 18 months, why did he say this? Neither Canada nor the EU has
used this opportunity to criticize the Czech government and shame it
into improving the human rights situation of this persecuted minority.
This government is saying, “None is too many, we don’t want the Gypsies
The IRB recently released its own report on conditions of Roma in the
Czech Republic – yet it has no mandate to issue reports on overall
country conditions and has never done so except in the case of Roma.
This is a breach of due process and taints the impartiality of IRB
panelists who will be deciding hundreds of still-pending Roma claims.