69% Acceptance rate for North Koreans making Refugee Claims in Canada. WHAT?!

Yes it’s true. Unfathomable really.

According to the Toronto Star, out of the 173 North Koreans seeking asylum in Canada during the first 6 months of 2011, only 69% of the claims have been accepted.

I would think that anyone who proves they were from North Korea and came to Canada directly or even indirectly, who had no other nationality, would and should automatically be granted refugee status. The abysmal, well documented,  human rights abuses perpetrated by the North Korean government speak for themselves. The famine, government surveillance, lack of medical care, horrific imprisonments should be more than enough to convince any rational board member of the IRB to approve claims made by these poor souls.

Now where it could be shown that claimants may have participated in the abuses themselves, acting as government agents, a case could be made for refusal. However, even in such circumstances, I can’t imagine there was a choice as every move in North Korea is a question of literal survival. Bottom line: I just can’t imagine that almost 30% of refused refugee claims failed to prove a well founded fear of persecution.

Refusing a claim, say, for technical reasons based on an incomplete Personal Information Form (PIF), the form that refugee claimants must fill out when making their claim, or for other reasons regarding testimony, documentation etc., just shouldn’t overshadow the overwhelming evidence that North Korea is a mass torture chamber and anyone fleeing from its grip should be given refugee status in Canada. In my view, the standard of proof should be rationally and contextually applied in North Korean cases. This standard should be met when a claimant proves he or she is from North Korea and that he or she was a victim of its system…period. And in the fast majority of cases, the first would automatically prove the second.

Denying North Koreans protection in Canada at a 30% clip is just shameful and embarrassing for a democracy like Canada.

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About Michael Niren

Michael is a graduate of Osgoode Hall Law School in Toronto. He is a member of the Law Society of Upper Canada, the Canadian Bar Association’s Citizenship and Immigration Section and the American Bar Association. He is frequently called upon to appear in the media to discuss Canadian and US immigration issues effecting North Americans. He has been interviewed by Canada AM, CTV, Canada News Net, the Globe and Mail and the Toronto Star and has given lectures on immigration topics overseas.

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