Sign the petition (https://www.ourcommons.ca/petitions/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-4758) to ease the immigration process for people who are being persecuted for political reasons!
Just recently we were all closely watching the situation unfolding around the citizenship case of Maria Kartasheva. The activist was steps away from being refused Canadian citizenship because of a conviction in Russia for sharing truthful information about the war in Ukraine. Thankfully in her case, the story had a happy ending because of the media (https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/ottawa/immigration-rules-that-jeopardized-russian-activist-s-citizenship-bid-need-fixing-experts-say-1.7069866) and public (https://chng.it/8NqqJPN4Qm) attention. However, the case highlighted that Canada doesn’t have procedures that would prevent victims of autocratic regimes residing in Canada from facing the same challenge in the future.
Autocratic regimes every day figure out new ways of terrorizing their citizens, even those living abroad. They learned to craft laws, for political persecution, that might sound just and fair to those unfamiliar with their political context. For example, in the Russian Federation, Articles 207.3, 280.3, and 284.2 were added to the Criminal Code after the invasion of Ukraine to suppress truth about the war and persecute dissenters. In Maria’s case, Russian Article 207.3 was mistakenly equated by the immigration officer to a similarly sounding Canadian article that also had “spreading disinformation” words in the name but is not used for political persecution.
We understand that other autocratic regimes, like Belarus and Iran, might have similar laws that violate the freedom of speech and other basic human rights, that don’t have an equivalency in Canada, and that might sound similar to some other laws in Canada. We want all of us to be protected and prepared for the future. At a time when dictators grow closer together, we need to support each other as well to be able to resist them.
After the case of Maria Kartasheva, we have good reasons to believe that immigration officers don’t have enough political context to make informed decisions in cases of activists who are being persecuted for political reasons. The current process for evaluating immigration and citizenship applications unfairly places the burden on those facing political persecution to prove that foreign laws they’re accused of violating aren’t crimes in Canada, and this places undue stress on those who have already suffered under autocratic regimes. We want to change this.
We propose creating an official list of laws that don’t have equivalency in Canada. That way these laws would be automatically disqualified as valid reasons for denying refuge, humanitarian or other visas, or Canadian citizenship. The political context for understanding these laws as political prosecution, not crimes, can be provided by the Canadian Ministry of Global Affairs – they already use this information to sanction regimes for human rights violations.
Implementing this list would streamline Immigration, Refugees, and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) reviews, expediting applications for those persecuted under these laws, and preventing delays for those wrongly perceived as criminals. We hope that it will not only help avoid unnecessary stress and bureaucracy for political activists but will also give immigration officers more confidence when making a decision about these cases.
We call upon the Government of Canada to establish a pre-approved list of laws used for political persecution that don’t have an equivalent in Canada, for fast-tracking the evaluation of immigration and citizenship applications during the Prohibitions sections of said applications.
We ask you to join us in our plea and sign the petition: https://www.ourcommons.ca/petitions/en/Petition/Details?Petition=e-4758. We need to gather 500 signatures before March 17, 2024 to get this petition to Parliament – help us reach that goal! This petition is open to Canadian citizens, and temporary and permanent residents. We would appreciate it if you share this petition with your friends and family!