United Nations Human Rights Committee asks Canada to stop the deportation of former child refugee Abdilahi Elmi

I’ve added some links into the Media Release:

August 23, 2019

Media Contact: Emmanuel Onah, 780-281-0627

UN Calls on Canada to Halt Abdilahi Elmi’s Deportation

Edmonton, Toronto – The United Nations Human Rights Committee today called on Canada to halt Mr Abdilahi Elmi’s deportation while his case is under review by the UN Committee under the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. Mr. Elmi’s deportation is currently scheduled for August 26th. Like the well-documented case of Mr. Abdoul Abdi, Mr Elmi was given refugee status as a child and then taken into state care which failed to apply for proper immigration documentation for him. Mr. Elmi left Somalia as a child, has no family there and does not speak Somali.

“Minister of Public Safety Ralph Goodale has the power to stop Mr Elmi’s deportation, and he must use it. It is clear that the primary reason that Mr Elmi faces deportation is because of collective systemic failures of the justice and child protection system, and these wrongs must be righted, starting with letting Elmi stay,” says Emmauel Onah of African Canadian Civic Engagement Council, one of the organizations part of the Justice for Elmi Campaign.

“Canada has an admirable track record of respecting interim measure requests from the United Nations Human Rights Committee to suspend removal while that Committee considers whether Canada’s intended action complies with its international human rights obligations. We would call on Canada to continue that tradition by respecting the request for interim measures issued today,” added Professor Audrey Macklin, University of Toronto Chair in Human Rights Law.

The full UN decision.

BACKGROUND:

Migrant talk: IOM Glossary on migration

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has released a Glossary on Migration. The first forward in the almost 300-page document offers a succinct rationale for the glossary:

“Effective cooperation among relevant actors is probably more important in the migration field than in any other policy areas. Not only do States sometimes speak different languages when dealing with migration, but also actors within the same State often use an inconsistent vocabulary. Variations in the use of terms are also common depending on the person’s field of work.

“International law contributes to create some common denominators, through the definitions provided by international instruments that are binding on the States that are parties to them. Among the most significant examples are the definition of a refugee in the 1951 Refugee Convention or the ones contained in the two Protocols on Smuggling of Migrants and Trafficking in Persons to the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crimes. Transnational cooperation would never be effective without a common understanding of the elements of the crimes prosecutors are responsible to fight, and burden?sharing could never become a reality without the commitment of many States to protect those who flee persecution.

“In other instances, States have pushed for a more humane approach to migration by calling on the international community to put an end to the use of dehumanizing terms associated with migration, such as “illegal migrants”, in favour of the more neutral attribute of “migrants in an irregular situation”. And these types of shift in the use of terminology are not only for the sake of political correctness but also to contribute to shaping the perception that we have of migration realities. The rise in the use of negative or alarmist terms in recent public discourse around the world have similarly impacted, although negatively in this case, the way migrants are perceived.

“At the time of releasing this Glossary, the adoption of the Global Compact for Migration has sparked renewed attention to migration realities. It is thus a critical moment to try to contribute to the consolidation of not only a uniform but also a correct and balanced approach to migration terminology”.

Regrettably, the glossary uses some outdated terminology that can be seen as stigmatizing. i.e., “acquisition of nationality”

“Any mode of becoming a national, i.e. by birth or at any time after birth, automatic or non?automatic, based on attribution, declaration, option or application.

Source: European Union Democracy Observatory on Citizenship, The EUDO Glossary on Citizenship and Nationality (2008–2016).

Note: The acquisition of nationality can occur at birth or after birth. The most common modes of acquisition of nationality at birth are the acquisition based on descent (jus sanguinis) or based on birth on the territory of the State concerned (jus soli). Nationality can also be acquired after birth for example by adoption, legitimation of a child born out of wedlock, marriage, naturalization or as the result of the ceding of territory from one State to another.

The glossary also uses he/him/his (sigh). But kudos for this explanation of the term adoption which clearly and correctly states how the process removes a child’s rights:

“adoption

“The statutory process of terminating a child’s legal rights and duties toward the natural parents and substituting similar rights and duties toward adoptive parents”.

Source: B.A. Garner (ed), Black’s Law Dictionary (10th edition, Westlaw, 2014).

Note: The Declaration on Social and Legal Principles relating to the Protection and Welfare of Children, with Special Reference to Foster Placement and Adoption Nationally and Internationally (UNGA Res 41/85 (3 December 1986)) set forth a number of commonly agreed principles and guidelines to ensure the protection of children in relation to national and inter?country adoptions.

The IOMs approach to talking about irregular migration also merits a shout out :

“Although a universally accepted definition of irregular migration does not exist, the term is generally used to identify persons moving outside regular migration channels. The fact that they migrate irregularly does not relieve States from the obligation to protect their rights. Moreover, categories of migrants who may not have any other choice but to use irregular migration channels can also include refugees, victims of trafficking, or unaccompanied migrant children. The fact that they use irregular migration pathways does not imply that States are not, in some circumstances, obliged to provide them with some forms of protection under international law, including access to international protection for asylum seekers fleeing persecution, conflicts or generalized violence. In addition, refugees are protected under international law against being penalized for unauthorized entry or stay if they have travelled from a place where they were at risk”.

Other terms in the glossary with interesting definitions include:

  • assimilation
  • asylum seeker
  • border management
  • build back better
  • climate migration
  • cultural diversity
  • cultural pluralism
  • economic migrant
  • environmental migrant
  • family reunification
  • family unity (right to)
  • healthy migrant effect
  • humanity (principle of)
  • integration
  • migrant
  • multiculturalism
  • safe third country
  • social cohesion
  • social inclusion

Research study: Unaccompanied children claiming asylum on the basis of sexual orientation and gender Identity

From the Abstract:
“This study explores the asylum claims of unaccompanied children concerning sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) and examines how case officers at the Swedish Migration Agency (SMA) responded to the credibility of their claims. The SMA provided one calendar year of asylum decisions concerning unaccompanied children, and 16 SOGI cases were identified. A thematic analysis of the cases was conducted. The results showed that case officers directed their focus to the quality of the children’s sexual relationships. This indicates that the case officers expect children to engage in long-term relationships similar to adults, despite their age. Furthermore, case officers tended to only render narratives credible if the society as whole was narrated as perpetrators. This indicates that case officers expect origin societies to be monolithic. The main conclusion, therefore, is that case officers are guided both by homonormative as well as homonationalist views in their decision-making process”.

Refugee Journeys: Identity, Intersectionality, and Integration, a board game

An analysis of Refugee Journeys: Identity, Intersectionality, and Integration (Lam, 2017), a board game for Canadians interested in learning about the experience of newcomers to this country.

What is, and how does this board game work?

“It started with a home printer and an old copy of Snakes-and-Ladders. Experiences of integration gleaned from research, from conversations with newcomers, and from media were collected and turned into ‘Experience Cards’ including:

  • difficulties with language learning
  • celebrating a child’s first friend
  • needing transportation in a rural area
  • trying to find food from home.

“A refugee student drew artwork for the gameboard, and a game designer, Rob Gosselin of Birdlight Games, gave professional insights to transform it into a product that could be ordered online.

“The end result is a game that is complex and engaging. It puts players into the shoes of a newcomer, moving forward or backward along the pathway of integration. Every player’s path is unique. Players receive an identity card detailing background and other aspects of identity. The journey of integration will be different depending on the cards drawn”.

If you’ve played this board game, immigrantchildren.ca would be interested to hear about your experience.

 

British Home Children: 150 years ago, first home children “arrived” in Canada

Visitors to immigrantchildren.ca will be familiar with my view on the British Home Children “program”: I believe that it was state-sanctioned child trafficking. Still, it is worth noting that this September, Canada will mark 150 years since the first children “arrived”.

Canada’s Museum of Immigration at Pier 21 has materials about this child emigration scheme, including this personal story.

Also see:

British Home Children in Canada

British Home Children Registry

Library and Archives Canada

The Canadian Encyclopedia

 

How Montreal’s La Maison Bleue Centre supports resilience in migrant mothers

Interesting recent article in PLoS ONE, 14(7) on “Strengthening resilience among migrant mothers living in Montreal, Canadaby Thalia Aubé, Sarah Pisanu, Lisa Merry.

From the Abstract:

“La Maison Bleue is a community-based perinatal health and social centre in Montreal that provides services during pregnancy up to age five to families living in vulnerable contexts. The study aimed to describe: 1) the challenges and protective factors that affect the well-being of migrant families receiving care at La Maison Bleue; and 2) how La Maison Bleue strengthens resilience among these families.

Methods

“We conducted a focused ethnography. Immigrants, refugees, asylum seekers and undocumented migrants were invited to participate. We collected data from November to December 2017 via semi-structured interviews and participant observation during group activities at La Maison Bleue. Data were thematically analysed.

Results

“Twenty-four mothers participated (9 interviewed, 17 observed). Challenges to well-being included family separation, isolation, loss of support, the immigration process, an unfamiliar culture and environment, and language barriers. Key protective factors were women’s intrinsic drive to overcome difficulties, their positive outlook and ability to find meaning in their adversity, their faith, culture and traditions, and supportive relationships, both locally and transnationally. La Maison Bleue strengthened resilience by providing a safe space, offering holistic care that responded to both medical and psychosocial needs, and empowering women to achieve their full potential towards better health for themselves and their families.

Conclusion

“Migrant mothers have many strengths and centres like La Maison Bleue can offer a safe space and be an empowering community resource to assist mothers in overcoming the multiple challenges that they face while resettling and raising their young children in a new country.”

Canadian Council for Refugees on the discourse around immigrants and refugees in the upcoming federal election

The Canadian Council on Refugees has issued an open letter to the leaders of Canada’s federal political parties, asking them to agree to a set of principles as they discuss and debate immigration and refugee issues and policy. Here is the letter:

“We are writing because we are concerned about how refugees and migrants in Canada may be characterized during the upcoming federal election campaign.

“We welcome thoughtful discussion on complex issues related to migration, and recognize that there are many legitimate perspectives.

“We are also conscious that refugees and migrants are easily victimized in political debates. In many countries around the world, especially during election campaigns, refugees and migrants have been talked about in ways that insult their dignity and humanity, contribute to xenophobia and racism, and are frequently grounded in distortion and misinformation.

“We believe that every leader, every candidate, and every political party, has a role to play in preventing this from happening in Canada. We therefore ask you to engage in discussions about migration in ways that recognize:

  • Our shared humanity,
  • That Canada finds opportunity through diversity,
  • That refugees strengthen our communities,
  • That refugees help build our economy,
  • That Canada has legal obligations to respect and uphold the human rights of those fleeing persecution

“We believe that how we respond to refugees, and how we talk about vulnerable migrants, is an important part of our collective identity.

“We want to be a country that welcomes refugees, that respects the dignity and human rights of vulnerable migrants, and that treats them fairly.

“We know Canadians value compassion, equality and safety for all.

“In the upcoming federal election campaign, we call on you to demonstrate your leadership by respecting these principles and speaking out when they are undermined by others”.

The CCR is also asking organizations to join in signing the letter.

The federal election will be  held in October 2019. For more information about the election, including how to ensure you are on the voters lists, visit Elections Canada.