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Winnipeg's Somali community voices concern over deportations


Friday May 10, 2019


The group says Somalia is unsafe due to daily bombings and assassinations. (Josh Crabb/CTV News)

Members of Winnipeg's Somali community held a small rally to speak out about deportations.

They're concerned asylum seekers, whose refugee claims in Canada have been denied because of criminal convictions, are being deported without valid travel documentation.

The group says the country's unsafe due to daily bombings and assassinations.

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"The issue here is, people are being thrown to the streets in Mogadishu and we don't know what happened to them," said Yahya Hasheem with Winnipeg’s Somali Community Outreach Centre. “It's very scary."

 Hasheem said if people are going to be deported, the group would like the Canadian government to do more to verify they're from Somalia and make sure people are handed over to the authorities on arrival.

Canada has administrative deferral of removals for certain regions in Somalia but people with criminal convictions can still be deported.

Immigration lawyer David Matas said the group’s concerns are valid. He said it’s so dangerous in Somalia right now, Canada should take a closer look before sending anyone back.

"In my view, it's not appropriate given the risks there,” said Matas. “In these cases, where there's an administrative deferral of removal, there shouldn't removal in the case of a conviction unless there's also a public danger opinion.”

“Many of these people have come from the U.S., they've had a criminal conviction in the U.S. quite some time ago; the maximum sentence may be high but the actual sentence may be low and they're not a danger to Canada now. They're in grave danger if they return."

The Canada Border Services Agency said deportations will only take place once travel documents have been secured and arrangements with the other country involved have been made.

A CBSA spokesperson said the decision to remove someone from Canada isn’t taken lightly.

“The Immigration and Refugee Protection Act states that removal orders must be enforced as soon as possible. The CBSA is firmly committed to doing so,” the spokesperson said. “Prior to removal, individuals may seek leave for judicial review, as well as administrative review procedures that assess the potential risk to the person of returning to the country of origin.”

“Pre-removal risk assessment is one of the safeguards in place to ensure people in need of protection are not removed. This assessment is conducted by officers of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada.

“Once individuals have exhausted all legal avenues of appeal/due process, they are expected to respect our laws and leave Canada or be removed.”

Numbers provided by CBSA show 104 Somali nationals have been removed from Canada and sent back to Somalia since December 2011. 12 have been deported since Jan. 1, 2019.



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