Appeal for letters in support of Cherfi

Posted by admin on Mar 15th, 2004

Michelle Courchesne, Cabinet de la ministre
Ministere des Relations avec les citoyens et de l’Immigration
Edifice Gerald-Godin, 360 rue McGill, 4e Žtage, Montreal (Quebec) H2Y 2E9
Fax: (514) 864-2899, Tel: (514) 873-9940, E-mail:

Judy Sgro, P.C., M.P. Citizenship and Immigration Canada, Ottawa, Ontario K1A 1L1
Fax: 613-947-8319, Tel: 613-992-7774 E-mail:

Anne McLellan, P.C., M.P.B Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
c/o Solicitor General of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0A6
Fax: 613-990-9077, Tel: 613-991-2924 E-mail:

March 9, 2004

I would like to draw your particular attention to the case of Mohamed Cherfi. Mohamed Cherfi had been in sanctuary at Saint-Pierre United Church in Quebec City since February 10 in order to avoid deportation to Algeria where he fears for his life. On Friday March 7, dozens of police officers forcibly entered a Quebec City church to arrest Mohamed Cherfi. Within hours, Mohamed was deported to the United States and is now in a prison cell. This is the first time in Canadian history that church sanctuary has been violated. This arrest breaks a longstanding secular tradition of right to sanctuary, the first time such an outrage has occurred in Canada.

Mohamed asked for political refuge in Canada as a conscientious objector, having refused to do compulsory military service that would have forced him into the civil conflict in Algeria. As asserted in a letter by Lucie Lemonde — the Vice-President of the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues (la Federation internationale des ligues des droits de l’Homme, FIDH) – there is a need for protection for Mohamed: a deportation to Algeria via the United States will put his life in danger due to the systematic violation of human rights (disappearances, torture, imprisonment) that have taken place, principally against the defenders of human rights. The report that the FIDH will submit to the UN Human Rights Commission in March, brings attention to the dramatic situation in Algeria, where a civil conflict that has lasted for more than ten years has resulted in 150,000 deaths and more than 7000 disappearances. The state of emergency continues, which allows for the systematic violation of human rights.

Mohamed was an outspoken member of the Action Committee of Non-Status Algerians, and their spokesperson. Due in large part to the tireless work of Mohamed, hundreds of non-status Algerians were regularized in Quebec as immigrants. However, Mohamed was himself refused as an immigrant to Quebec on the pretext that he was not adequately “integrated”.

I urge you to consider the mounting support for Mohamed Cherfi from various church groups, unions, student groups, womens groups, media outlets, members of political parties, and community organizations. Mohamed is being targeted as a human rights defender and the violation of sanctuary sets a dangerous precedent that effectively sends a message to those fighting for their rights that if they do so, they will be targeted and deported. This is an undeniable case of miscarriage of justice on the part of the authorities of Quebec and Canada that lead to the violation the sanctuary of the Saint-Pierre United Church in Quebec City and resulting in the deportation of Mohamed Cherfi to the United States. Mohamed Cherfi must be brought back home.


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