There are indications of hard times ahead for Nigerian immigrants hoping to claim asylum in Canada as the Canadian Government has tightened its assylum rules making it harder for Nigerians to be granted assylum in the country.
The recent ruling by Canada’s refugee board on granting of assylum to Nigerian immigrants has not gone down well with refugee lawyers in the country.
The Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) is taking the Canadian government to court over the recent court ruling that will make it hard for Nigerians to be granted asylum in the North American country.
According to the association, its members are displeased with the deceision by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada to deny a Nigerian Woman assylum in the country and also setting the court ruling against her request as a precedent in such matters.
The Nigerian immigrant was refused assylum in Canada despite claiming to have fled the country to escape the practice of female genital mutilation in the country.
The Canadian court was of the opinion that the woman could have sought refuge from her family in large Nigerian cities like Ibadan or Port Harcourt without having to go all the way to Canada.
The Canadian immigration and refugee board decided to designate the ruling as a legal precedent in considering all future Nigerian asylum cases.
The Canadian Immigration lawyers faulted this step by the IRB reiterating that the deceision was unfair to thousands of Nigerians who make up at least 10,000 of the 30,000 asylum seekers that have illegally walked across the border from the United States into Canada since January 2017.
The import of the IRB deceision is that Nigerians would now be subjected to higher scrutiny than all other Nationals seeking assylum in Canada than what previously obtained.
According to Lorne Waldman a refugee attorney;
“It’s very problematic. It enhances the evidentiary burden on claimants from Nigeria in a way that I say is unfair,” he said in an interview with Reuters
The Canadian Refugee Lawyers filed a request for a judicial review of the new guideline in a federal court in Toronto in July, seeking to block the new evidentiary requirements for Nigerians as well as other migrants from China, India and Pakistan against whom the IRB has made a similar decision.
The IRB has however said, the measure was taken to ensure consistency and efficiency in decision-making about refugee claims from what it described as a “major source country.”
A Nigerian man and his family has already suffered from the new IRB rules as they were denied assylum in Canada on grounds that safe places existed for the family in Nigeria.
The Nigerian identified as Samson had alleged that he was a prominent estate developer in Nigeria being targeted by rival developers in the country.
He told the IRB that he and his family had been repeatedly attacked and moving to another city did not deter the attacks; they got worse. This prompted his deceision to seek refuge in Canada alongside his family through the United States/Canadian border.
According to Samson;
“I can’t imagine having to go back to a country where our lives are not safe … They should send me back, but not the kids.”
His lawyer, Anne Castagner is preparing to appeal his case but is equally worried about other upcoming cases in light of the IRB ruling.
“I don’t think the real refugees should suffer from the fact that we have a lot of Nigerians coming in,” she said.
Canadian Immigration officials have been working in tandem with United States Visa Officials in Nigeria to stop the influx of Nigerian immigrants crossing illegally into the country from the United States.
This measure was taken after the Canadian government noticed a growing trend of asylum seekers illegally walking across the United States of America’s border to file refugee claims in Canada.
The Canadian immigration also noticed that many of the Nigerian assylum seekers possessed valid U.S Visas even though they spent very little time in the U.S before crossing the border to seek assylum.
The Canadian government is under pressure to get the Nigerian immigration situation under control and is trying to secure its borders more while obeying its law on refugees as well as maintaining its image within International circles.