Germans seek asylum in Canada over schooling

Posted by admin on Mar 23rd, 2010

Tuesday, March 23, 2010, CBC News

A German couple are fighting to stay in Canada rather than return to their homeland and face what they say is persecution for deciding to home-school their children. At an Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada hearing Tuesday in Calgary, the couple — who arrived in Canada in 2007 and now live in Alberta — say they risk going to jail and having their children seized if the family is forced to return to Germany. The German government believes home-schooling prevents people from integrating into society, said Jeann Munn, the family’s lawyer.

The parents were given two weeks’ notice that the authorities would seize their children if they refused to place the children in schools. The circumstances are not as dramatic as refugee claims of torture or jailing, but it’s still a valid claim, Munn said.

“When we look at what’s at stake here, no they’re not going to lose an arm. They’re going to lose their children,” she said. “So it’s a very serious consequence for something that the world — through the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights — has recognized.”

In the United States, another family from Germany recently won the right to asylum on similar grounds, said Raj Sharma, a lawyer who also specializes in immigration law.

“There’s nothing that the persecution has to be dramatic or appalling or horrendous. And certainly the case law would support a finding of the state taking away the children, in perhaps an arbitrary fashion, to constitute persecution,” he said.

The hearing is not open to the public. A decision on the matter could take weeks or months.

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