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Enviado por:  JenJonas  11 febrero 2012
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CANADA: MIGRANT RIGHTS TESTED BY MOST-WANTED LIST

Ottawa's clampdown on some of the country's worst criminal offenders by creating a public most-wanted list netted its most recent arrest only days ago, but the system has triggered a debate over the publishing of fugitives' names and the ethics and feasibility of changing Canadian immigration policy.

A Guyanese national with several criminal convictions in Canada such as violence and weapons-related offences was arrested in Toronto on Sep. 15 due to a tip to the most-wanted website of the Canadian Border Services Agency.

Shameer Allie, who was wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for removal from the country, is the fifth person to be located via the website list of dangerous criminals living illegally in Canada, including war criminals, established by the government earlier this summer.

Yet the success of the fugitive programme has been marred by criticisms of the immigration system itself.

In August, Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews slammed the Immigration and Refugee Board's alleged lax treatment of one of the dangerous individuals who had been caught through a tip line. Walter Guzman of El Salvador, who earned a ranking on the CBSA's list for trafficking in an illegal substance, assault, breaking and entering, and uttering threats, was released on bail.

The incident sparked Ottawa's decision to mull changes to immigration legislation. Toews argued the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act leaned toward releasing people on the verge of deportation and challenging the government to prove that those in custody are a public danger.

Since Toews's announcement in August about reviewing Canadian immigration policies, there is still no definitive decision regarding how the federal government will proceed.

'Min. Toews has asked his officials to investigate possible changes to the legislation to ensure the integrity of our border and our immigration system,' Julie Carmichael, press secretary for

Toews, told IPS in an e-mail. 'Individuals looking to take advantage of our generous immigration system will find no haven on our shores.'

Some civil society organizations argue that Canadian immigration laws already take into account violent offenders because people can be detained for being a danger to the public.

The Immigration and Refugee Board is charged with balancing individual rights against government evidence of a person's violent nature, said Janet Dench, executive director of the Canadian Council for Refugees based in Montreal. Anyone who cares about the right to liberty should be concerned about Ottawa's announcement that it may amend the law to make it easier to detain people, she told IPS.

Legal revisions under consideration seem to 'undermine the independence of the judiciary,' Dench noted, 'and in a democracy it's really important that you have a strong and independent judiciary.'

While the courts are responsible for weighing individual cases, 'sometimes ...



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