Queen's University

New refugee legislation

2010-11-03

Queen’s University law professor Sharryn Aiken is available to discuss the federal government’s new legislation on Thursday aiming to curb the number of refugee claimants arriving on Canada's shores.

Professor Aiken, who is also the Associate Dean of the Queen’s Faculty of Law, does not know the specifics of the legislation yet, but she is an expert on immigration and refugee law as well as human rights law.

“While suspending a firm opinion until the law is actually introduced, I’m concerned that any law purporting to address ‘mass arrivals’ as a less deserving category of refugee claimant will run afoul of both the letter and the spirit of the 1951 Refugee Convention to which Canada is signatory," says Professor Aiken. "Whether arriving by boat, airplane or land passage – the vast majority of genuine refugees have used a smuggler at some point in their journey. And the arrival of some 500 refugees is hardly a ‘mass’ and certainly not beyond the resources of Canada to process. While Canada receives only a small fraction of "self selected" asylum seekers in global terms, the most effective way to address the refugee problem would be to step up pressure on states who haven't become a party to the Refugee Convention – states like Thailand and India. Canada should be focusing its efforts on enhancing refugee protection internationally not passing domestic laws which seek to penalize the very people who need our assistance.”

For an interview, please contact Michael Onesi at 613.533.6000 ext. 77513 or michael.onesi@queensu.ca, or Kristyn Wallace at 613.533.6000 ext. 79173 or kristyn.wallace@queensu.ca at News and Media Services, Queen’s University.

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