“Country of Origin” in the Refugee Context

16th Jun 2015 Comments Off on “Country of Origin” in the Refugee Context

Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (“IRPA“) provides that:

Convention refugee

96. A Convention refugee is a person who, by reason of a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion,

(a) is outside each of their countries of nationality and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to avail themself of the protection of each of those countries; or

(b) not having a country of nationality, is outside the country of their former habitual residence and is unable or, by reason of that fear, unwilling to return to that country.

There has recently been disagreement within the Federal Court over what the term “countries of nationality” encompasses, and on May 11, 2015, Justice Mosely certified the following question:

Do the expressions “countries of nationality” and “country of nationality” in Section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act include a country where the claimant is a citizen but where he may face impediments in exercising the rights and privileges which attach to citizenship, such as the right to obtain a passport?

The Federal Court of Appeal has previously addressed the issue of the definition of “countries of nationality” in the IRPA s. 96 context when in Williams v. Canada (“Williams”) it answered the following certified question in the affirmative:

Does the expression “countries of nationality” of section 96 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act include a country where the claimant can obtain citizenship if, in order to obtain it, he must first renounce the citizenship of another country and he is not prepared to do so?

In Williams the Federal Court of Appeal ruled that whether the citizenship of another country was obtained at birth,

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