17 Feb 2007
By JORGE BARRERA, NATIONAL BUREAU
The systemic rejection of refugee claims from Pakistanis on the run from Islamic terror groups should compel the government to enact an appeal process that's been on the books since 2002, human rights groups and immigration lawyers say.
A lawyer for a Shia Pakistani man -- known as Shaeed -- who was deported last year says his client may have been able to stay in Canada if a refugee appeal process existed.
FORCED TO FLEE
Shootings, beatings, harassment and trumped-up charges of insulting Sunni modes of worship forced Shaeed's family to flee to Canada, first to Montreal before moving to Toronto.
"It could have been different if we had an appeal process in Canada," said Montreal lawyer Stewart Istvanffy. "What is happening to the Shias in Pakistan is almost the same as what was happening to the Jews in the mid-1930s."
The Conservative government is exploring ways to enact the appeal process created by the Liberals. A meeting with Immigration Minister Diane Finley is set for next week, Sun Media has learned.
The opposition parties support a Bloc Quebecois private member's bill to do the same.
"There is a serious question about the fairness of the process because it has not been implemented," said NDP immigration critic Bill Siksay.
Amnesty International used Shaeed's story during an appearance before the Commons immigration committee as an example of the need to create the appeal process.
Shaeed was reportedly put in the bad books of the Sipah-e-Sahaba, a militant groups with ties to al-Qaida, after he protested the persecution of Shias. The Immigration and Refugee Board rejected his claim.