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Another aid worker threatened with prosecution for assisting refugees
New threats of prosecution for helping refugees
Another humanitarian refugee worker has been threatened by the Canadian government with prosecution for assisting refugees, the Canadian Council for Refugees reported today. The threats follow charges for people-smuggling laid (and subsequently dropped) last fall against Janet Hinshaw-Thomas, a US-based refugee worker.
On 14 December 2007, Margaret de Rivera, a Quaker volunteer from Maine, accompanied two Haitians to the border point at St Stephen, NB, where they made a refugee claim. A Canadian immigration official told Ms de Rivera that she would be arrested and prosecuted under s. 117 of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, which criminalizes people-smuggling, if she came back again with refugee claimants. The two Haitians were allowed to make their refugee claim, as they are entitled to under the law. Ms de Rivera and the informal refugee support group to which she belongs act on humanitarian grounds and do not charge any money to the refugees they help, even to defray costs.
"These recent threats of criminal charges mean that the Canadian government is continuing its attempts to intimidate those who help refugees, despite the broad public outcry last fall against the prosecution of Janet Hinshaw-Thomas," said Liz McWeeny, CCR President. "We need the law to be changed so that is not a crime to help refugees. We call on the government and opposition parties to work together to amend the law."
A link to the full press release is provided below.
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