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Canadian Lawyers Sue Government Over Unfair Treatment Meted To Nigerians

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Asylum Seekers In Canada.              Credit: File

A recent ruling by Canada’s refugee board makes it harder for Nigerians to be granted asylum, and refugee lawyers are unhappy about how unfair it is.

The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) is dragging the Canadian government to court over a recent court ruling that will make it hard for Nigerians to be granted asylum in the North American country.

According to a report by New York Times, the association is displeased with the recent decision of Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) to establish as a legal precedent its ruling to deny a Nigerian woman’s asylum request.

The unnamed Nigerian woman was denied asylum even though she claimed she fled Nigeria to escape the practice of female genital mutilation. The court ruled that she could have sought refuge away from her rural family home in any of Nigeria’s large cities of Ibadan or Port Harcourt, and not necessarily run all the way to Canada.

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The IRB seized on the ruling to designate it as a “jurisprudential guide” or legal precedent in considering all future Nigerian asylum cases.

According to CARL, this decision is unfair to thousands of Nigerians who make up at least 10,000 of the 30,000 asylum seekers that have illegally walked across the Canada-United States border since January 2017, according to government figures.

The association said the decision means Nigerians would now likely face a higher bar to gain asylum status than they did in the past with their acceptance rate (33% as of June 2018) already below the average (47 %) for all those who crossed the border illegally, according to data from the IRB.

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According to New York Times, CARL filed a request for a judicial review of the new guideline in federal court in Toronto in July, seeking to block the new evidentiary requirements for Nigerians and migrants from China, India and Pakistan against whom the IRB has made a similar decision.

An IRB spokesperson said the decision was taken to ensure “consistency and efficiency in decision-making” about refugee claims from what she described as a “major source country.”

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