Canada's Refugee Board Makes It Harder For Nigerians To Be Granted Asylum

A recent ruling by Canada's refugee board makes it harder for Nigerians to be granted asylum, and refugee lawyers are unhappy about how unfair it is. The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) is dragging the Canadian government to court over a recent court ruling that will make it hard for Nigerians to be granted asylum in the North American country. 

 According to a report by New York Times, the association is displeased with the recent decision of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to establish as a legal precedent its ruling to deny a Nigerian woman’s asylum request. The unnamed Nigerian woman was denied asylum even though she claimed she fled Nigeria to escape the practice of female genital mutilation. 

 The court ruled that she could have sought refuge away from her rural family home in any of Nigeria’s large cities of Ibadan or Port Harcourt, and not necessarily run all the way to Canada. The IRB seized on the ruling to designate it as a “jurisprudential guide” or legal precedent in considering all future Nigerian asylum cases. According to CARL, this decision is unfair to thousands of Nigerians who make up at least 10,000 of the 30,000 asylum seekers that have illegally walked across the Canada-United States border since January 2017, according to government figures. 

 The association said the decision means Nigerians would now likely face a higher bar to gain asylum status than they did in the past with their acceptance rate (33% as of June 2018) already below the average (47 %) for all those who crossed the border illegally, according to data from the IRB. “It’s very problematic. It enhances the evidentiary burden on claimants from Nigeria in a way that I say is unfair,” Lorne Waldman, an attorney with the association, told Reuters.

According to New York Times, CARL filed a request for a judicial review of the new guideline in federal court in Toronto in July, seeking to block the new evidentiary requirements for Nigerians and migrants from China, India and Pakistan against whom the IRB has made a similar decision. 

 An IRB spokesperson said the decision was taken to ensure “consistency and efficiency in decision-making” about refugee claims from what she described as a “major source country.” IRB ruling has already affected a Nigerian’s asylum claim The IRB has already enforced the legal precedent to deny Nigerian claimants refugee status, as a tribunal member ruled against granting asylym to a Nigerian man and his family on grounds that there were safe places for them to live in Nigeria.

The man, identified as Samson, said he was a prominent property developer in Nigeria when he began to be targeted by people he suspects to be rival developers. According to his asylum claims, Samson said he and his family were attacked repeatedly and moving to another city did not deter his detractors. He said this led him to flee with his family to the United States and cross the border into Canada. “I can’t imagine having to go back to a country where our lives are not safe … They should send me back, but not the kids,” he said. His lawyer, Anne Castagner,is preparing to appeal his case but is equally worried about other upcoming cases in light of the IRB ruling. “I don’t think the real refugees should suffer from the fact that we have a lot of Nigerians coming in,” she told New York Times. 

Canada working hard to stop illegal Nigerian immigrants Amid worries at the rise of Nigerian migrants crossing into Canada with refugee claims, it was revealed in May 2018 that the Canadian government was leaning on United States of America’s visa officials in Nigeria with the hope of limiting the number of visas issued to Nigerians to move to America. This measure was taken after the Canadian government noticed a growing trend of asylum seekers illegally walking across the United States of America’s border to file refugee claims in Canada.  

Many of the Nigerian asylum seekers are noted to have arrived bearing valid U.S. visas after having spent very little time in the United States. A spokeswoman for Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada told Reuters on May 2, 2018, that two Canadian officials were sent to Lagos to work directly with their counterparts in the U.S. visa office. The Canadian government is under pressure to get the situation under control and is trying to secure its borders more while also obeying its law on refugees and maintaining its image.

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