January 28, 2008

Canada Refugee System

A client asked me if he can avail of Canada's refugee system on the basis that his wife was kidnapped few years ago and that they paid P5,000,000.00 ransom. According to him, there is still a threat that it will be done again and they fear for their lives.

Does being a kidnap victim qualify a person for refugee protection system?

Section 97 (1) of Canada Immigration and Refugee Act specifies who may avail of Canada's Refugee System:

A person in need of protection is a person in Canada whose removal to their country or countries of nationality or, if they do not have a country of nationality, their country of former habitual residence, would subject them personally

(a) to a danger, believed on substantial grounds to exist, of torture within the meaning of article 1 of the Convention Against Torture; or

to a risk to their life or to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment if

(i) the person is unable or, because of that risk, unwilling to avail themself of the protection of that country,

(ii) the risk would be faced by the person in every part of that country and is not faced generally by other individuals in or from that country,

the risk is not inherent or incidental to lawful sanctions, unless imposed in disregard of accepted international standards, and

(iv) the risk is not caused by the inability of that country to provide adequate health or medical care.

Considering that there was no police report to support the kidnapping incident, it would be difficult for them to support their claim and make a case out of it.

The closest similar case I've read so far is this:

The principal applicant alleged a fear of persecution by reason of her imputed political opinion. According to her testimony, she had a business through which she met opponents of the existing regime. She was allegedly the victim of a kidnapping attempt.

Her application was refused based on the following grounds:

The reason someone sought to extricate money from her was not because she served opponents of the regime, but because she had money or it was believed that she had money. Therefore, there was no nexus with any of the grounds for persecution set out in section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (the Act). Further, this is not a risk the applicants were exposed to personally, but rather a generalized risk. Consequently, because of subparagraph 97(1)(b)(ii) of the Act, section 97 does not apply in this case.

Here's a research paper on the application of Section 97 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. Information on how to apply for refugee protection in Canada may be found here