Issues and action
Roma Human Rights: Europe's Disgrace, Canada's Shame
Presented by Roma Community Centre, Toronto
What is happening right now to Roma in Europe? Why are thousands fleeing to Canada? And why are they being sent back to face racist persecution and dire poverty while fearing for their lives? With Canada's immigration minister Jason Kenney raising the spectre of 'bogus' refugee claims, are we revisiting 1940's Canada when a high-level government official infamously proclaimed about Jewish refugees that "none is too many"?
Janos Daroczi's 2009 37-minute film Tatárszentgyörgy documents the recent rise of fascist and neo-nazi movements in Hungary. On February 23, 2009, a Romani father and his 5-year-old son from Tatárszentgyörgy were fatally shot as they escaped from their home that was set on fire by molotov cocktails. The mother and two other children were wounded. The Tatárszentgyörgy police suggested that there was an electrical fire and that the two died from injuries sustained while escaping.
The speakers discussed:
This event was held on Wednesday November 24, 2010, 6:30 - 8 p.m. at the Library of the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. These human rights issues persist, and the Roma Community Centre is actively involved in them.
Immigration and Refugee Board Lead Case overturned by Federal Court of Appeal
On March 27, 2006 the Federal Court of Appeal overturned the Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) Lead Case decision of January 21, 1999. The 1999 decision rejected refugee claims by two families and determined that conditions for the Roma in Hungary did not amount to persecution. In its decision, the Federal Court of Appeal said that the Lead Case was ill conceived and designed solely to limit the number of Hungarian Roma accepted as refugees in Canada and to deter new Roma claims from Hungary.
Only the dogged objections and persistent appeals of the Roma Community and its lawyers defeated this Lead Case. In the seven years during which it was being appealed, the acceptance rate for Roma from Hungary dropped from 70 percent to as low as 8 percent and more than 10,000 Hungarian Roma refugees were rejected. Many of the Roma families who were denied refugee status have Canadian-born children.
Other Lead Cases would have limited the acceptance of other refugee groups in a similar matter.
We are exploring how the Federal Court of Appeal decision can assist other Hungarian Roma families. In light of this, we are advocating:
Even though Hungary is now in the EU, racism and persecution persist. Roma in Hungary suffer 70 percent unemployment; 50 percent of their children are in schools for the mentally handicapped; only five percent of Roma children are educated beyond Grade 8. Roma are routinely 'run out' of towns and villages. They suffer skinhead assaults and and police brutality or indifference.
We are also advocating that Humanitarian cases be processed quickly and with a reducted application fee.
Current fees are $550 for each adult and $150 for each child, plus additional fees upon approval. .
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