Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Topic: Seeking Asylum in Another Country

Asylum Laws:
In General

Most asylum laws have their foundation in various United Nations documents:

Convention against Torture and Other Cruel,
Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment

The Torture Convention

The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the “Torture Convention”) was adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations on 10 December 1984 (resolution 39/46). The Convention entered into force on 26 June 1987 after it had been ratified by 20 States.

The Torture Convention was the result of many years’ work, initiated soon after the adoption of the Declaration on the Protection of All Persons from Being Subjected to Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (the “Torture Declaration”) by the General Assembly on 9 December 1975 (resolution 3452 (XXX)). ..Continued..

See also: Refugees and Stateless Persons

Asylum Laws:
United States

Asylum: Every year people come to the United States seeking protection because they have suffered persecution or fear that they will suffer persecution due to: Continued

Asylum in Other Countries:

Canada Asylum Laws: Canada offers refugee protection to people in Canada who fear persecution and who are unwilling or unable to return to their home country.

Florida sex offender granted asylum in Canada (5-16-2014)

Denise Harvey is residing in Saskatchewan after being granted asylum

A Florida sex offender, who claimed asylum in Saskatchewan, has been granted protected person status. In 2008, Denise Harvey was convicted of having unlawful sex with a minor. According to American media reports, the boy was 16-years-old and played on her son’s baseball team.

Harvey fled to Canada in 2010 before she could be sent to prison. She was sentenced to 30 years in jail and is still wanted in the United States. Harvey claimed her sentence was cruel and unusual punishment and after arriving in Saskatchewan, she asked for asylum.

Her request for protected person status was heard by the Immigration Review Board (IRB) in July of 2012 and the IRB granted her request because it agreed her sentence was indeed cruel and unusual punishment and the crime she was convicted of is not a crime in Canada.

Canadian law states that a 16-year-old can consent to sex with an adult unless the adult is a person of trust, such as a teacher, coach or boss. If that is the case, the age of consent jumps to 18. Since the Florida boy was 16 and Harvey was not considered to be in a position of trust, no Canadian laws were broken.

Canadian immigration minister sought review of ruling

The Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, Chris Alexander, sought a review of the IRB ruling on two occasions, however the federal court upheld Harvey’s protected person status. The ruling was accepted by Citizenship and Immigration Canada in April of this year.

In an email to CBC Alexander expressed concern with the federal court ruling. Our Conservative government reformed Canada’s asylum system in order to protect genuine refugees, individuals truly in need of protection,” Alexander said.

“I find it mind-boggling that individuals from the United States, which has been designated a safe country, precisely because it respects human rights and does not normally produce refugees, think it is acceptable to file asylum claims in Canada. Lucky for them, they have no understanding of what true persecution is, and what it means to be a genuine refugee.”

Harvey's protected person status allows her to apply for permanent residency and eventually apply for citizenship.
What is the difference between a refugee and a protected person?

According to the Government of Canada a refugee has a well-founded fear of persecution in their home country or country of residence for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group or political opinion and would be in danger of torture or death upon their return. A protected person must show that returning to their home country or country of residence would subject them personally to torture, cruel and unusual punishment or death.

Outrage as Swiss move to segregate asylum-seekers (8-7-2013)

Some Swiss towns plan to keep asylum-seekers away from public places such as swimming pools, playing fields and libraries, in a move human rights groups say is racist. The curbs are aimed at preventing tensions with residents, officials say. Asylum-seekers are to be housed in special centres, mainly former army barracks, and the first one has opened in the town of Bremgarten. Switzerland's share of asylum-seekers is well above the European average. Asylum laws were tightened in June.

The BBC's Imogen Foulkes in Geneva says the controversy reflects growing voter unease at the number of asylum-seekers in Switzerland - per head of population, among the highest in Europe. Currently about 48,000 people are seeking asylum in Switzerland.

'Sensitive areas'

Roman Staub, mayor of the town of Menzingen, said asylum-seekers should be banned from "sensitive areas" such as the vicinity of a school. "This is certainly a very difficult area, because here asylum-seekers could meet our schoolchildren - young girls or young boys," he said.

In Bremgarten, a church will also be off-limits to asylum-seekers. Human rights groups are outraged, calling the measures racist, our correspondent reports. The UN refugee agency (UNHCR) said it was a principle that asylum-seekers should enjoy freedom of movement. "They are in Switzerland legally and have committed no crime," spokesman Dan McNorton told our correspondent.

"In order to encourage a welcoming environment for people who are uprooted and often vulnerable, it is important to reinforce public messages which aim at avoiding the risk of stigmatisation of asylum-seekers and also at promoting refugees' integration. "In many cases we are talking about children, women, men who fled from war and persecution and wish as much as possible to go back to a normal life."

The UNHCR spokesman added that refugees and asylum-seekers had, in turn, "to respect the laws of the country they are in".

The government says the rules are not formal bans on movement - but admits its own department of immigration agreed the restrictions with town councils. In June voters overwhelmingly backed a controversial move to tighten asylum restrictions, amid a spike in the number of refugees in the country. Switzerland counts one asylum-seeker for every 332 inhabitants. The European average is one asylum-seeker for every 625 inhabitants.

Convicted child predator, sex offender wanted in Oklahoma after disappearance (12-3-2013)

... He was last seen in San Diego, California, at the end of October after he was expelled from Mexico. Marshals said he tried to seek asylum there but Mexican officials denied his request. At the time no warrants were out for his arrest so they released him into California. ...

Immigration agents arrest American sex offender in Makati (8-31-2013)

Manila - The Bureau of Immigration (BI) arrested an American pedophile and sex convict wanted by federal authorities in the United States for violating his parole by fleeing to the Philippines. Immigration Officer-in-Charge Siegfred Mison identified the fugitive as 51 years old Stephen Rodden, who was arrested on August 23 in Makati City by operatives from the bureau’s Fugitive Search Unit (FSU).

The arresting agents reported that the American could not present his passport when arrested at his home along Mockingbird St., Barangay Rizal, Makati City. Mison said Rodden, who was convicted by a US court for “continuous sexual abuse of a child,” will be deported as soon as the BI Board of commissioners issues the order for his summary deportation.

The Immigration Chief said, “We will likewise put him in our blacklist so he cannot return here and pose a risk to our Filipino children, or to anyone who could be his next victim.” He added that Rodden is an undocumented alien as his passport had already expired. It was learned that the American was arrested at the request of the US Embassy which informed the BI about his record as a convicted child molester.

The Embassy said a warrant for Rodden’s arrest was issued by the Board of Parole Hearings in California on March 13, 2012. The same Board also suspended his parole upon learning that he violated the same by fleeing the US. The existing ‘Maegan’s Law’ has made life difficult for sexual offenders in the US. This is because ‘Maegan’s Law’ requires paroled sex offenders to report their whereabouts to authorities on a regular basis. Unlike in the US where ‘Maegan’s Law’ is being implemented, the Philippines has not yet enacted any law which will protect children from sex offenders.

North Korea arrests 24 year old American citizen trying to claim asylum in DPRK (4-2014)

North Korea has arrested and detained an American citizen, the third tourist in the past six months, the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) announced on Friday. The 24 year old man in question, identified as Matthew Miller by Uri Tours, was arrested for attempting to claim asylum in North Korea, the KCNA said. “A relevant organ of the DPRK put in custody American Miller Matthew Todd, 24, on April 10 for his rash behavior in the course of going through formalities for entry into the DPRK to tour it,” the KCNA said.

Miller ripped up his tourist travel certificate and declared “he would seek asylum,” adding that ”he came to the DPRK after choosing it as a shelter,” the KCNA said, which described his actions as a “gross violation” of legal order. The North Korean government detained Miller “after taking a serious note of his behavior, and is now investigating the case.” Leonid Petrov, a North Korea at the Australia National University in Canberra, told NK News that the arrest promised a “PR bonanza” for Pyongyang.

“Miller Matthew Todd’s action has hit the nerve of North Korean immigration officers because the DPRK considers entry visas its property and does not tolerate disrespectful attitude to it.

“Every foreign visitor who expresses intention to stay in the “workers’ and peasants’ paradise” longer than his or her visa permits, creates panic among the minders and leads to investigation and deportation. But an American citizen seeking asylum in the DPRK promises a PR bonanza for the regime, which desperately seeks Washington’s attention,” Petrov said. It is normally rare for tourists to be arrested in North Korea, however, North Korea has arrested a number of foreigners in possession of visit papers in recent months. Chad O’Carroll, Managing Editor of NK News, was stopped leaving North Korea in 2010 for having a damaged tourist visa.

“I was nearly prevented from leaving the country due to my passport photo having become completely detached from the visa form. The customs officials took it very seriously and I was nearly prevented from boarding the plane back to Beijing. Therefore, it does not surprise me that Todd was arrested under these circumstances. “However, it is noteworthy that news of Todd’s arrest was broken today – 16 days after his alleged arrest – while U.S. President Barack Obama is in the middle of a trip to South Korea.”

North Korea released Australian missionary John Short and U.S. Korean War veteran Merrill Newman within just a few weeks of their arrest, in December and March respectively. The U.S. State Department currently advises against all travel to North Korea.

For now, have a great day and a better tomorrow.
eAdvocate (BACK to the Top Page)

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