Call for moratorium on deportations to Burundi

September 21, 2015


The Burundian community and refugee rights advocates have demanded that a moratorium be declared against deportations of Burundians in Canada, based on the extreme deterioration of the human rights situation in Burundi. 

Citizenship and Immigration Canada announced on August 12th that all Burundian refugee claimants rejected in the 365 days preceding its announcement can apply for a new “Pre-Removal Risk Assessment”.

Raoul Boulakia, President of the Refugee Lawyers Association of Ontario states

“This measure is insufficient.  The PRRA process is not an effective protection mechanism.  Its rejection rate is 98.6%. It has routinely rejected Burundians, including Burundians who report that they were tortured after being deported, and Burundians continue to receive PRRA rejections.”

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees reports that between April 1 2015 and July 8 2015 alone 167,034 Burundians fled to neighbouring countries and registered with it as refugees. It is likely that thousands fled before and since that time and many more are unregistered.  The United Nations Security Council has been warned of an “escalating pattern of politically motivated violence” with the ruling party’s militia engaging in “campaigns of intimidation and terror” which have compelled refugees to flee.  It has also been warned that this crisis “should not be underestimated” give the “country’s history of recurring bloodshed and atrocities” –alluding to the genocide in Burundi and Rwanda which Burundi’s ruling CNDD-FDD party took part in and which Western governments failed to protect civilians from.

Mitchell Goldberg, President of the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers states: “All governments have a responsibility to protect civilians in these circumstances. Only a moratorium would protect Burundians.  We reiterate that a moratorium is urgently needed.”

Jean-Sebastien Boudreault, President of the Quebec Immigration Lawyers Association believes that: « Considering the rapidly deteriorating situation in the country for everyone, it is contrary to Canada’s international obligations to even consider deporting Burundians back to their country. » 

The above groups therefore call upon the government to immediately instate a moratorium on removals in order to protect Burundians in Canada from deportation during the crisis.

Media contacts:

CARL:  Mitchell Goldberg (514) 844-7528

RLA:  Raoul Boulakia (416) 963-4488 ext 135

AQAADI:  Jean-Sebastien Boudreault (514) 335-3037

Communauté Burundaise de Montreal:  Pierre-Clavel Nibafasha (438) 495-6580