March 24, 2014

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) is intervening before the Supreme Court of Canada in Febles v. Canada (Minister of Citizenship and Immigration).  The case will be heard in Ottawa on Tuesday, March 25, 2014.

The case concerns the interpretation of Article 1(F)(b) of the United Nations Refugee Convention, as incorporated into Canadian law.  Article 1(F)(b) excludes people from refugee protection where they have committed a serious non-political crime in another country prior to their arrival in Canada. 

Article 1(F)(b) serves an important purpose in international refugee law: it ensures that people who have committed serious crimes and are undeserving of protection do not bring the asylum system into disrepute.  But the consequences of being denied refugee protection are significant and it is imperative that a fair and principled test for exclusion be applied.  

CARL will argue that Canada’s approach to exclusion under Article 1(F)(b) requires reformulation.  It is our position that the current approach to defining “serious” in the term “serious non-political crime” is inconsistent with the object and purpose of the Refugee Convention: it is overly broad, arbitrarily applied, and unduly restricts from consideration highly relevant factors to the assessment of what constitutes a serious non-political crime.  CARL is proposing a two-part framework that aligns exclusion with the underlying purpose of Article 1(F)(b) and the Refugee Convention, which as the Supreme Court of Canada confirmed in Ezokola v. Canada, is to assure refugees the widest possible exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms.

Four other interveners will also speak to the issue, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Amnesty International, the Canadian Council for Refugees, and the Canadian Civil Liberties Association.  CARL is looking forward to appearing before the Supreme Court of Canada alongside some of Canada’s best refugee advocates.

For More:

A copy of CARL’s factum can be found here
CARL will be covering the hearing via twitter on March 25, follow #Febles here
Watch the Supreme Court of Canada’s live web feed on March 25 (9:30 am EST) here