Friday, January 07, 2005

Call and fax Minister Sgro today

Taking advantage of closed courts and limited scheduling, Immigration Canada is attempting to slip past counsel and supporters of Mohamed Ahmed Yakub over the holidays. On January 11th, 2005, Immigration will try to rip Mohamed from his wife and four sons, to deport him to a dangerous and uncertain fate in Somalia. It will be the third attempt in recent weeks to send him back to a country he has not seen since he and his family fled the civil war in 1989.

Immigration is trying to remove Mohamed from his life and community of the past 15 years in Toronto, despite a pending Federal Court review of a decision stating that Mohamed faces no risk upon return to Somalia and a pending Humanitarian and Compassionate/ Sponsorship Application which has not yet been considered.

Mohamed is married with four sons, the youngest of whom, Canadian-born Fahd, is only 9 years old. Mohamed's wife and his three eldest sons have all long since been granted refugee status and are Canadian citizens. If deported, Mohamed is at great risk, as he does not identify with his clan membership in a society where such affinity is critical to survival. His lack of any family or community ties leaves him vulnerable to inter-clan violence. Mohamed would also be forced to leave his sons without the only father they have ever known and his wife to raise their children completely on her own.

Mr. Tabit, Director of Midaynta, a Somali agency in Toronto, has implored the Minister to allow Mohamed to remain in Canada with his family, stating that it would "avoid another mother-led family to struggle with four teenage boys in a society that has made this an on-going burden to many of our families" and would be consistent with the Minister's commitment to family reunification.

Mohamed is facing deportation to a country still so unstable and poverty-stricken that the Canadian government is currently considering re-imposing a moratorium on deportations to Somalia, which had previously been in effect.

"The part of Somalia where I came from is an independent republic, and the government of this republic has not been part of the peace talks. In the north, where I am from, there is very high levels of violence still, the refugee camps are terrible and I have no where to live or anyone that I know, " says Mohamed.

Immigration Canada's first attempt to deport Mohamed took place during the recent strike of PSAC employees, meaning Jeff Rafique - the Expulsions Officer responsible for Mohamed's deportation - was available to make arrangements to tear Mohamed from his family, but not to respond to OCAP and Mohamed's lawyer's requests for a stay of deportation. The Officer's reply was conveniently sent so close to Mohamed's removal date that the only option was to seek an emergency stay at Federal Court. Now Rafique has made a similar move, scheduling the deportation for one day after the Federal Court reopens in the New Year.

Initially, Mohamed's deportation was to land him in Mogadishu, Somalia. Countless international bodies, from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to the UK Home Office, explicitly "warn against" deporting Somali nationals to parts of the country where they do not come from. Mogadishu is in the south of Somalia, and the dominant clan is the Hawiye clan. Mohamed, however, comes from Burao, Somaliland, which is in the north, and is a member of the Issaq clan. When issuing the deportation notice, the Enforcement Officer provided no proof of travel documents to Mohamed. Somali citizens have long been unable to obtain passports, and it is well-documented by Amnesty International that returning refugees who lack proof of identity face great risk, given the widespread frequency of clashes between warring clans in Somalia.

The deportation itinerary issued by Immigration Canada was also extremely questionable. Significant documentation exists to suggest airline charter companies flying into Somalia from the UAE, such as the flight Mohamed was scheduled to take, use unsafe aircraft and are commonly run by the very same warlords who preside over the conflict within Somalia. The American, British and Canadian governments have of late attempted to sidestep the dire warnings of international human rights organizations against returning refugees to Somalia by flying people into neighbouring countries and dumping refugees without documentation or protection. Officer Jeff Rafique of the Greater Toronto Enforcement Centre, Immigration's local deportation hub, intends to put Mohamed on such a flight, followed by a bus route which the Officer hastily scribbled by hand onto Mohamed's removal order.

One day before the scheduled flight to northern Somalia, Mohamed and his lawyer will be in Federal Court to fight the final legal battle to stop Mohamed's family from being destroyed and his life thrown into great jeopardy.

Court will take place in the final hours before Mohamed faces boarding an airplane to be returned to a country he has not seen for 15 years, a highly unstable nation still gripped with violence, lawlessness and chaos -- one which has now also been thrown into even greater uncertainty after the recent devastating tsunami, leaving hundreds of Somali citizens dead and tens of thousands without shelter. He will land in Somalia without identity papers, money, family or any community contacts whatsoever.

On Monday, January 10th, Amina Sherazee will present compelling arguments to the Federal Court, the highest court division available to appeal decisions made by Immigration Canada, in which she will fight the refusal of Jeff Rafique, Expulsions Officer, to defer Mohamed's deportation until his PreRemoval Risk Assessment and/or Humanitarian and Compassionate/Spousal Sponsorship Application is heard.

It is crucial that we show the Court the evidence of the widespread support which has grown around Mohamed and his family, with letters coming in from faith, labour, community, student and activist networks. In Toronto and elsewhere, please keep up the pressure via phone and fax.

Judy Sgro, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Canada:
In Toronto, (416) 744-1882 (tel) (416) 952-1696 (fax)
In Ottawa, (613) 992-7744 (tel) (613) 947-8319 (fax)

When you call/fax, demand the following:
1) That Mohamed Ahmed Yakub's deportation scheduled for January 11th, 2005 be stayed.
2) That Mohamed's application for landing on Humanitarian and Compassionate Grounds be examined and that he be granted permanent resident status in Canada.

For more information, contact:
Amina Sherazee, Downtown Legal Services, 416.934.4561
Stefanie Gude, OCAP, at 416.925.6939
Ontario Coalition Against Poverty, 10 Britain St. Toronto, ON M5A 1R6, 416-925-6939

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