Tuesday, November 20, 2007


Canada urged to join pact against human trafficking

Peter O'Neil
CanWest News Service
Friday, November 09, 2007
STRASBOURG, France -- Canada is being urged to sign and ratify a controversial Council of Europe convention intended to battle the modern slave trade.
The council, a human rights body created in this city in 1949 on the advice of former British prime minister Winston Churchill, will enact the convention next year to battle the trafficking of people - mostly women and children - for the purposes of sexual slavery and forced labour.
A conference Thursday heard grim accounts of recent events that underscore the inability of authorities to publicize and crack down on one of organized crime's most lucrative industries.
John Austin, a member of the British House of Commons, noted that British media, the public and police have largely ignored the recent story of 48 trafficked children who went missing while in the protective custody of social service agencies in England.
The children, aged 10 to 17 and mostly girls from Africa and China, are believed to be back in the hands of organized crime figures who originally smuggled them into England to work as child prostitutes.
Meanwhile, the British media, the public and authorities obsess every day about the whereabouts of a pretty blond four-year-old, Madeleine McCann, who went missing over the summer in Portugal.
"I find the dramatic contrast between (public attention to) the worldwide search for Madeleine, and the plight of 48 missing children in Britain, extraordinary," Austin said.
In a later interview, Austin urged countries like Canada to adopt the convention.
That view was echoed officially by Matjaz Gruden, a special adviser to Council of Europe secretary-general Terry Davis.
"It's in the clear interest of Canada and the European countries that are members of the Council of Europe" to ratify the convention, Gruden said.
"We cannot do these things alone. We cannot even do it on a continental basis. I mean, Europe is a big place, but these are issues where you need global co-operation in order to be successful."
The council is made up of 47 European members. Five more - Canada, the Holy See, the United States, Japan and Mexico - have observer status. Canadian officials and parliamentarians have participated in the formulation of modern council conventions in areas such as counter-terrorism, cybercrime, the sexual exploitation of children, and trafficking, Gruden said.
Canadian officials were unable Thursday to explain Canada's position on the trafficking convention, although Justice Canada said on its website that it is following United Nations' resolutions denouncing people-trafficking.
"The government of Canada is working to combat trafficking in persons both domestically and internationally."
Gruden noted that many European countries have voiced concern over the strong provisions in the Council of Europe convention intended to protect victims.
The convention calls on authorities to treat trafficked people as victims, provide them with "physical and psychological assistance and support for their reintegration into society."
While all council members have signed the treaty, only 10 countries so far have ratified it. Some governments are dragging their feet because of concern that the victim-protection provisions could be used to prevent states from expelling illegal migrants.
"What they were afraid of is that it would create a loophole for illegal immigration," Gruden said.

Sunday, November 18, 2007


Several Visalaw International member lawyers presented on immigration topics at the annual meeting of the International Bar Association which was held last month in Singapore. Gunther Maevers papers on German immigration law are posted here.

Friday, November 9, 2007


Greg Siskind of Visalaw International's US firm Siskind Susser Bland testified yesterday in front of the US House of Representative's Immigration Subcommittee on the need for a Board of Visa Appeals to review denials of green card petitions at US consulates around the world. The hearing was televised and we will link to the video and the written testimony when they are posted shortly on the Subcommittee's web site.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


Minister Finley announces overseas expansion of Foreign Credentials Referral Services

New Delhi, India, November 6, 2007 — The Honourable Diane Finley, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, today announced the expansion of services to help immigrants from India and China get their professional credentials assessed and recognized in Canada as quickly as possible with the assistance of the Foreign Credentials Referral Office (FCRO).
While in India, t he Minister announced the open ing of a new office of the Canadian Immigration Integration Pro ject in New Delhi. The new office, which is centrally located, is in response to increased demand in the region.
“The Government of Canada is committed to helping newcomers succeed, and one way to do that is to help them before they get to Canada,” said Minister Finley. “Too many newcomers have come to Canada only to learn after they’ve arrived what credentials are needed. By expanding our FCRO programs overseas, we’re helping prospective immigrants to get a head start by providing information on the foreign credential recognition process and the Canadian labour market.”
Today’s announcement adds service on a rotational basis in the states of Gujarat and Punjab, which are major sources of skilled immigrants from India. In China, rotational services have been added in Beijing and Shanghai so services are available to more potential immigrants.
Until now, the orientation sessions have been available in three cities in India, China and the Philippines. To date, more than 1,200 prospective immigrants have registered, and benefited. Overall, participants say they are more confident about being able to settle successfully when they arrive in Canada.
When the Foreign Credentials Referral Office was launched in May of 2007, the Government of Canada committed to expanding overseas services. Today’s expansion is another step towards meeting this commitment. The sessions are funded on a pilot basis by Human Resources and Social Development Canada’s Foreign Credential Recognition Program and delivered by the Association of Canadian Community Colleges’ Canadian Immigration Integration Project.
The Foreign Credentials Referral Office was established following consultations with provincial and territorial governments and other key stakeholders, including regulatory and assessment bodies, post secondary education institutions and their national organizations, employers, sector councils, immigrant serving organizations and newcomers themselves. While credential recognition in Canada is a provincial and territorial responsibility, the federal government plays a facilitative role, funding projects and providing a range of information, path-finding and referral services to help internationally trained persons navigate through the foreign credential assessment and recognition processes and obtain up-to-date information about the Canadian labour market.

Thursday, November 1, 2007


Under pressure from the EU, Canada has removed the visitor visa requirement (Temporary Resident Visa) for citizens of the Czech Republic and Latvia. The two visa requirements date back to very different sets of circumstances: The visa requirement on citizens of Latvia is a leftover from the breakup of the Soviet Union; Latvia (together with Estonia and Lithuania) was a former Soviet satellite, where citizens used their new found freedom to go abroad and never come back, but the situation changed dramatically when Latvia joined the EU and began experiencing strong economic growth, an incentive for its citizens to stay in Europe. The visa situation with the Czech Republic is more complex: in the 1990s, the Czech Republic enjoyed visa-free status, but a deluge of bogus Czech and Hungarian Roma "refugees", encouraged by unscrupulous lawyers and consultants, inundated Canada's asylum system. It is then surprising that the visa has been removed, and further monitoring to determine if the situation will repeat itself is warranted.