Ottawa appealing ruling on white South African refugee

Posted by admin on Sep 3rd, 2009

By Janice Tibbetts, Canwest News Service. September 3, 2009

The federal government is appealing a ruling that granted asylum to a white South African who claimed his skin colour would put his life in danger there. South Africa’s high commissioner to Ottawa, who condemned the ruling as outrageous, said he is “delighted” that the government has decided to launch a legal challenge. If the ruling is allowed to stand, it will pose a threat to South Africa’s pursuit of a “harmonious, non-racist society,” said Abraham Sokhaya Nkomo, who is South Africa’s top diplomat in Canada.

The high commission said in a statement that the government’s decision to appeal “is evidence of the close relationship between Canada and South Africa.”

Huntley, who fled to Ottawa from Cape Town, told immigration officials he was beaten several times in his home country.

Nkomo had vowed to pursue all avenues in lobbying the Canadian government to appeal and he was meeting with Foreign Affairs officials Thursday when he learned that the decision would be challenged.

He took particular issue with Huntley’s allegation that the South African government turns its back on white South Africans.

Although thousands of failed refugee claimants seek appeals in the Federal Court, the government has only appealed about 15 successful refugee claims in the last five years.

South Africa’s governing African National Congress denounced the ruling in a statement, saying the reasoning for granting Huntley refugee status “can only serve to perpetuate racism.”

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