Security Certificates and the Harkat Decision

25th May 2014 Comments Off on Security Certificates and the Harkat Decision

Last Updated on May 25, 2014 by Steven Meurrens

On May 14, 2014, the Supreme Court of Canada (“SCC”) issued its decision in Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) v. Harkat, 2014 SCC 37 (“Harkat“).  While the SCC upheld the constitutionality of Canada’s security certificate regime, it provided detailed guidance to the Federal Court on applying the process. 

Mohamed Harkat and the Security Certificate Regime

Mohamed Harkat (“Mr. Harkat”) entered Canada in 1995, and obtained refugee status shortly thereafter.  In 2002, the Government of Canada detained him under a security certificate (described in more detail below).  It declared that Mr. Harkat was a threat to Canada for allegedly being an al-Qaeda sleeper agent, and sought to have him declared inadmissible to Canada.  During the past decade, Mr. Harkat has either been detained or living under strict conditions.

At the SCC, Mr. Harkat argued that the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, SC 2001, c27, did not provide him a fair opportunity to defend himself against the Government of Canada’s allegations.  His arguments were similar to those that Adil Charkaoui successfully made when the SCC struck down Canada’s previous security certificate regime as being unconstitutional.

The Security Certificate Regime

Canada’s security certificate regime compared to its criminal justice system offers the Government of Canada numerous procedural advantages.  As the SCC noted in Harkat:

From a practical perspective, the IRPA scheme is in some respects more advantageous for the state than criminal proceedings. It has a lower standard of proof and is more protective of confidential national security information than the criminal law: ibid.

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Government of Canada Commits to Initiating Removal Against 875 Refugees Per Year

5th May 2014 Comments Off on Government of Canada Commits to Initiating Removal Against 875 Refugees Per Year

Last Updated on May 5, 2014 by Steven Meurrens

The following is an article that I wrote for the May edition of The Canadian Immigrant.


In January 2014, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) released Operational Bulletin: PRG-2013-59, which states that the CBSA has committed to referring a minimum of 875 refugee vacation or cessation cases per year to the Refugee Protection Division (RPD).

News of this bulletin, and the apparent resolve of CBSA to reach its quota, puts many in the refugee community at risk. It is important that all refugees who became permanent residents, and refugees who are not yet permanent residents, understand its implications.

Vacating versus cessation

The “vacating” of refugee status occurs when the RPD determines that a refugee claim was successful as a result of the claimant misrepresenting or withholding material facts. A person whose refugee status is vacated loses both their permanent resident status and their protected person status.

In contrast to vacating, “cessation” of a refugee’s status can occur without fraud, which is why it has attracted criticism. The RPD may determine that a person’s refugee status has ceased if:

  1. the person has voluntarily re-availed himself or herself of the protection of their country of nationality
  2. the person has voluntarily reacquired their nationality
  3. the person has acquired a new nationality and enjoys the protection of that new nationality
  4. the person has voluntarily become re-established in the country that the person left before claiming refugee status in Canada
  5. the reasons for which the person sought asylum in Canada have ceased to exist (for example, a country that previously persecuted an ethnic minority that a refugee belongs to no longer does)

The first four examples can include refugees who return to their country of origin for extended periods to visit relatives or establish business relations,

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