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Court strikes down conservative government’s unconstitutional ‘safe country’ list

(Exhibit A: Fear Mongering and Xenophobia For Votes)


In a ruling Thursday, the federal court ruled that the Charter rights of refugee applicants ( section 15(1) of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms) are being violated by denying applicants from designated countries of origin (DCO) the right to appeal when their claims are rejected.  This provision of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (subsection 110(2)(d.1)) has been struck down as unconstitutional; the latest in a series of the Conservative government’s xenophobic refugee policy overhauls to be refused by the courts. This ruling also means that in the near future there is a higher possibility of additional aspects of the DCO policies to be challenged in the courts.

The Toronto Star reports the ruling states,  

“Ottawa’s designation by country of origin or DCO discriminates against asylum seekers who come from countries on this list by denying them access to appeals… It also serves to further marginalize, prejudice, and stereotype refugee claimants from DCO countries which are generally considered safe and ‘non-refugee producing… Moreover, it perpetuates a stereotype that refugee claimants from DCO countries are somehow queue-jumpers or ‘bogus’ claimants who only come here to take advantage of Canada’s refugee system and its generosity.”

It is reported the judge also, “refused the government’s request to stay his ruling for 12 months, saying every day the policy is in force is a day that claimants are not equal before or under the law.” The government now plans to ask for another stay as they plan to take this ruling (Decision: 2015 FC 892) to the Federal Court of Appeal. As well, the Conservative government continues to appeal a separate Federal Court decision from 2012 that found denying refugee claimants from DCOs access to health care benefits was also a constitutional violation, and cruel and unusual punishment. 


In the meantime, CBC states that, “The decision, however, will have the immediate effect of allowing refugee claimants from 42 countries the right to appeal if their claims are turned down.” 

The Council of Canadians stands firmly against the xenophobic refugee policies of this government and the physical and mental effects it has on the health of these people. 

For more information on this subject see:

International Romani Day: refugees deserve justice and health

We delivered an open letter to Joe Oliver to demand cuts to refugee assistance are taken out of the omnibus budget

Cruel and Unusual: the Conservatives’ many-sided assault on refugee and migrant health

Harper’s Canada: using omnibus budget bills to deny health & social assistance to refugees

Previous Articles on IHF Cuts