Canada Deported Libyan Nationals Despite Wide-Spread Violence

Almost a year ago, Canada started pulling its embassy staff out of Libya and sending them to a secure location. They also began warning Canadians not to travel to the country because of the current war-ravaged conditions and increasing violence in the area. In a November 2014 statement, the previous Foreign Affairs Minister, John Baird, had declared that Canada passionately despised the worsening violence, and that it had an ongoing dedication to standing with the Libyan people in their struggle to “defeat terrorism and violence, restore the rule of law, and [to] build a free, prosperous and democratic society.” Despite their affinity for justice however, Canadian officials deported at least 15 Libyan nationals back to the war-torn country; 11 were sent in 2014 and 4 were sent just in the first few months of 2015.


Knowing full-well the violence and danger that was plaguing the area, Ottawa continued to send people who had been living in Canada, back on a plane to Libya in the midst of the warfare; this transfer didn't stop until March 20th 2015. A Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA) spokesperson confirmed that “as a result of the growing widespread violence effecting the entire Libyan population, the CBSA [had] imposed an Administrative Deferral of Removals (ADR) to Libya.” However, apparently the violence a year earlier was justified enough to warrant the removal of Canadian officials from the embassy, and to urge citizens to refrain from traveling to the area; why did this designation come in so late? “I think this issue of deporting people to countries with atrocious human rights records is even more serious now than a few years ago,” said Richard Goldman, co-ordinator of the Committee to Aid Refugees. 


From early 2014 throughout March of 2015, the Department of Foreign Affairs had sent out roughly eight communications that warned of the worsening instability in the region, the violence, bombings, and targeted assassinations within Libya. Unfortunately these conditions didn't prevent Canadian authorities from trying to send people into those conditions; even a family with children. For now, the deportations have ceased under the ADR order. Libya also isn't the only country for which an ADR currently exists, others include regions in Somalia, the Gaza Strip, Syria, Mali, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan. 

The ADR also isn't absolute, in that Canadian authorities can override it and send individuals back if they are ever seeming to pose any threat to Canada, if they are criminals, or if they have been convicted of war crimes or crimes against humanity. This means that any criminal conviction can have an immigrant sent back to a war zone, and the conviction also doesn't need to be under Canadian law. Even those individuals who are currently protected from being sent back under an ADR, can essentially be returned at any time. For those who are unfortunate enough to be targeted for “removal,” they can seek appeal on the decision based on humanitarian grounds and more. “The prevailing human rights situation is so grave in some of these countries, the very real possibility that (deportees) would be at risk would be a very high one,” said Alex Neve, the secretary general of Amnesty International Canada. 

Canada forcibly deports thousands of people every single year, even to places like Iraq and Afghanistan which both have formal bans in place regarding deportations. One of the main problems with this dilemma, is that there aren't sufficient checks-and-balances in place currently, “to ensure that people are not sent back to situations of abuse in such countries” says Goldman. The number of rejected refugee deportations each year continues to grow, in 2013 it was estimated to be more than 10,500.


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