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None is too many: Asylum in Canada necessary until EU can guarantee safety for Roma
16-07-2009 - Press release

Photo: ČTK 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 Republic.

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 international law”.

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 either.”

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.



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