July 26, 2021

New Refugee Stream Announced for Human Rights Defenders

Posted by Amanda D'Angelo - Bellissimo Law Group PC

On 16 July 2021, Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (“IRCC”) announced the launch of a new refugee stream to provide a safe haven for human rights defenders who are fleeing persecution in their home country. [1]

Who are human rights defenders? Human rights defenders are people who individually or with others, act to promote or protect human rights in a peaceful manner. [2] Human rights defenders face persecution at the hands of both state and non-state actors including arbitrary arrest, detention, threats, torture, enforced disappearance and assassination. [3]

Canada is one of the first countries to offer a dedicated, permanent pathway for those who put their lives on the line to protect and defend human rights globally. Canada will resettle up to 250 human rights defenders per year, including their family members, through the Government-Assisted Refugees Program. To be considered for this stream, individuals must be referred to the Government of Canada by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). [4]

The Government of Canada will work with Front Line Defenders and ProtectDefenders.eu, alongside other Canadian and international partners, including the United Nations Refugee Agency, to identify human rights defenders who face security risks and are in need of resettlement, and to find solutions for human rights defenders in need of protection. This will include a particular focus on people at heightened risk, such as women, journalists and LGBTQ2 human rights defenders.

With the creation of this stream, Canada is helping to provide more options to human rights defenders in need of protection so that they have a pathway to permanent residence when they cannot return home.

For more information on the eligibility requirements, please visit Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s website.