The Canadian government is set to introduce the Removal of Serious Foreign Criminals Act that will withdraw refugee protection from dangerous foreign criminals and allow the government to deport them back to their countries of origin.
Canada’s Minister of Public Safety Steven Blaney has announced that the government is considering the legislation in order to “close the loopholes” that allow criminals from foreign countries to live in Canada even after they have been convicted of grave crimes and are considered a threat to society.
“What we are seeking to do is close the loopholes in our Canadian law and between our organizations that are being actually exploited by criminals who have been found guilty and who are basically taking those gaps to stay longer and, as we have seen here, constitute a bigger threat to our country,” Blaney said.
The proposed changes are part of the government’s “tough on crime” approach that is aimed at tightening regulations on criminals. In 2013 the government initiated similar changes through the Faster Removal of Foreign Criminals Act, which barred foreigners considered a threat to security from seeking humanitarian protection in Canada.
Amendments are also being proposed to the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, Corrections and Conditional Release Act, International Transfer of Offenders Act, and Criminal Records Act. Blaney says that the government is planning to modify these acts to make sure that deportation of non-Canadian criminals is quicker and easier. This would include foreign criminals who have been granted refugee protection and permanent residency.
According to the government, this step will help Canada negotiate treaties wherein government can send back criminals (even without their consent) to serve their sentences in their home countries.
At present, Canada needs to take an inmate’s consent in order to send him/her back to the home country.
“Our government will not allow Canada to be used as a safe haven for foreign criminals,” Blaney said.
“By introducing the Removal of Serious Foreign Criminals Act, our Government is eliminating barriers to the removal of foreign criminals convicted of committing serious crimes in Canada. Also, by allowing the mandatory transfer of foreign criminals to serve the remainder of their sentence in their home country and with the other measures being brought forward today, our government continues to keep our streets and communities safer for Canadian families.”
The proposed changes will also annul criminal pardons for foreign nationals or permanent residents convicted of serious crimes. In addition, the Correctional Service of Canada will now be allowed to inform the registered victims of crime about the date and destination of criminals who have been released from immigration detention.
The proposed changes come following reports of several cases where criminals of foreign origin have managed to stay on in Canada for numerous years, and have even become citizens after being granted pardons. In most of these cases, the deportation process was delayed and dragged on by rich and resourceful criminals mainly by way of legal challenges and lengthy appeals processes.
The government’s plan has caused concern among refugee groups and their representatives who have been fighting for changes to the country’s strict asylum rules.