Czech Roma to sue board for `biases,’ lawyer says

Posted by admin on Jul 17th, 2009

July 17, 2009, Nicholas Keung, Toronto Star

Roma Canadians will sue Immigration Minister Jason Kenney and the Immigration and Refugee Board for “institutional biases” against Czech Roma refugees, says their lawyer Rocco Galati. At issue is whether Kenney’s reference to “bogus” refugee claims to justify visa restrictions on Czechs and Mexicans crosses the line of “political interference” into the board’s independent decision-making power, Galati said yesterday. The lawsuit will focus on the refugee board’s recent release of a guide on Czech Roma, which the community claims is discriminatory.

Meanwhile, Mexico said yesterday that Canadian diplomats and officials would now require visas to visit the country, a retaliatory move after Ottawa imposed new visa rules for Mexican visitors, Reuters reports. Starting yesterday, Mexican and Czech citizens must present a visa before boarding a flight to Canada.

Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa said there were no plans to impose visa restrictions on Canadian tourists.

Kenney’s recent comments blaming the Mexicans and Roma for Canada’s refugee woes will prejudice many cases to be heard by the board, said refugee advocates and lawyers.

“The Canadian government is creating a policy of `none is too many,'” said William Bila of the Roma Community Centre, which has launched an online petition pleading with Canada to address human rights violations of Roma in Europe and drop the visa restrictions.

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