On May 4, 2017, the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada announced that effective June 1, 2017, asylum seekers from Afghanistan, Burundi, Egypt and Yemen will eligible to claim refugee status in Canada by skipping lengthy judicial hearings. Syria, Iraq and Eritrea are already on the list of the Policy on the Expedited Processing of Refugee Claims, which was first introduced on September 18, 2015.
The purpose of the policy is to meet Canada’s mandate to make refugee status determination from certain countries fair and quick by accepting claims without a hearing in some circumstances. If the there are no issues relating to the claimant’s identity, no credibility issues that arise from the documents in the file, and information given by the asylum seeker is consistent with information about their country of nationality, their application may be decided without a hearing.
The designation of the seven countries as being suitable for consideration under the expedited process is based on the recent acceptance rate for claims, the fact that claims do not generally involve complex issues and the volume of cases from those designated countries heard by the Refugee Protection Division.
Once asylum seekers have been identified as being eligible under the expedited policy, they will be notified that their claim has been selected and will be asked to provide supporting documents, if desired. The claimants will be able to sign a confirmation form certifying that they do not wish to provide any requested documents for the purpose of the expedited process. A member of the Immigration and Refugee Board will then either accept the refugee claim without a hearing based on the evidence in the file, or will make a determination to schedule a hearing if he or she cannot make a positive decision base on the existing evidence.
In September of 2015, the Government of Canada announced that in order to meet the target of resettling 10,000 Syrians and 23,000 Iraqis by the end of that year, it temporarily reduced the documentation required for the refugee sponsorship process and that going forward, “unless there is evidence to the contrary, visa officers will be able to presume those fleeing the conflict meet the definition of refugee, which will make processing faster”.
According to the CBC, acceptance rate for Syrian asylum claims at the Immigration and Refugee Board went from 52% in 2011 to over 90% in 2013. After Syria, the next highest acceptance rates were from Eritrea, Iraq, Libya and Egypt.
Yemen – 100% Muslims. 60%–65% are Sunni Muslims and 35%–40% are Shia Muslims
Afghanistan– 99.7% of the total population are Muslims. Sunni Muslim: 80-90%, Shia Muslim: 7-19%.
Egypt – 90% Muslim, 9% Orthodox Christian, 1% Other Christian
Syria – 87% Muslims. 74% are Sunni Muslims, 13% of are Shia Muslims, 10% Christian, and 3% Druze.
Iraq – 85% of the population are Muslims (65% of Muslims in Iraq are Shia and around 35% are Sunni), non-Muslims (mainly Assyrian Christians) account for 15%.
Eritrea – 50% Christians, 48% Muslims, and 2% follows other religions.
Ilana Shneider is the co-editor of CIJnews and the founding executive director of Canada-Israel Friendship Association, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the mutually beneficial, long-standing diplomatic, economic and cultural ties between Canada and Israel. She can be reached at [email protected]