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Justice for Manuel! Stop Manuel’s deportation – Call for Solidarity

July 23, 2012
Please forward to your networks…
Manuel was forced to flee Mexico because of the constant threats, and physical and sexual violence he suffered at the hands of a police officer, who wouldn’t accept that Manuel had ended their relationship. Fearing for his life, Manuel came to Canada in December of 2008, seeking refugee status. After nearly four years of living in Canada, Manuel’s refugee claim and subsequent recourses to remain in Canada have been rejected.
This past Friday, July 20th 2012, gay refugee Manuel presented himself with his lawyer to the immigration office. Upon his arrival, he was sent to detention, and is now at risk of being deported. Manuel will have a review of his detention on Monday, July 23rd at 1pm. We will be preparing a media release to be sent out soon after Manuel’s review of detention. Over the next week, we ask for your solidarity in supporting Manuel and his fight to remain in Canada.
We denounce the decision of the Canadian government to proceed with Manuel’s deportation. We request that a stay of deportation occur until the Inter-American Commission Human Rights (IACHR) has been able to make a decision based on their investigation. In addition, we continue to request that Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney intervene and use his discretionary powers to provide Manuel with permanent residency status. We invite you to show your support for Manuel and stand in solidarity with his struggle to stop an imminent deportation.
Here are the concrete actions that you can take:
1)     Forward this Call Out for Solidarity to your networks
2)     Write a letter of support for Manuel (please e-mail info@agirmontreal.org if you are interested)
3)     Stay tuned for further possible actions this week
Details leading to Manuel’s detention
On the day of his deportation date, June 20th 2012, Manuel’s lawyer believed there was an international intervention by the IACHR (http://www.oas.org/en/iachr/) and so Manuel decided to remain in Canada. Unfortunately, the IACHR was only in the process of collecting information, before responding on whether or not there should be precautionary measures taken in Manuel’s case. NDP leader Thomas Mulcair had also made a request to Minister Kenney to use his discretionary powers to grant Manuel permanent residency status. Unfortunately, Minister Kenney has thus far refused Mulcair’s request.
Given these circumstances, Manuel decided to present himself to the immigration office with a pre-purchased flight ticket back to Mexico for Thursday, July 26th 2012. Manuel hoped to avoid detention and was prepared to return to Mexico, even though he knew this meant living in fear of being persecution. Manuel was hoping that a response from the IAHRC would occur at some point before returning to Mexico. On Friday, July 20th, Manuel presented himself with his lawyer to the immigration office. Upon his arrival, he was sent to detention, and is now at risk of being deported.
BACKGROUND
Manuel was forced to flee Mexico because of the constant threats, and physical and sexual aggression he suffered at the hands of a police officer who wouldn’t accept that Manuel had ended their relationship. The threats and aggression towards Manuel continued and even began to target his close circle of friends. Manuel finally decided to submit a complaint to the authorities. When he did, he was clearly told that it was not going to be received because his aggressor was a police officer. The human rights abuses perpetrated by Mexican police forces and the failure to establish credible oversight controls have been well documented by the Amnesty International Annual Report 2011. If the police officer who persecuted Manuel finds out that he has been forced to return to Mexico, he can continue to abuse his power feeling secure in the impunity provided to him by a corrupted police force that is complicit and active in perpetuating state violence. Due of all of these factors, Manuel will be forced to live in constant hiding, since the police officer persecuting Manuel could easily trace his whereabouts anywhere in Mexico. If Manuel was forced to return to Mexico, his life would, without doubt, be at risk.
Homophobic and transphobic attacks in Mexico are still commonplace, as demonstrated by reports on LGBT hate crimes or the increasing numbers of LGBT related complaints filed by the human rights Commission in Mexico. Even with the adoption in 2010 of same sex marriage rights in the capital city, this law ignores the reality that legal rights do not equate to social equality – especially since this law is not being recognized and is even criticized, by federal government representatives and it not actual legislation against homophobia. In 2010, Carlos de la Torre, human rights official from the Mexican office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), stated that Mexico was not putting into practice the Federal law to prevent and eliminate discrimination based on sexual orientation, dating from 2003. The Mexican government cannot assure its citizens of protection and justice due to varying forms of corruption and impunity which disproportionately impacts marginalized communities, including sexual minorities, visible in the number of murders of LGBT people yearly.
In addition, the political climate of Mexico is not favorable to the LGBT community or other marginalized communities, including women, indigenous people, etc. Just a few weeks ago, Enrique Pena Nieto, of the Revolutionary Institutional Party, was elected president. Nieto’s previous mandate as governor was characterized by impunity with respect to the largest number feminicides (more than Cuidad Juarez) in the country. His mandate was also characterized by openly homophobic comments and his abuse of power in San Salvador Atenco, where the indigenous peoples were killed and assaulted during a protest.
Manuel’s case highlights the current obstacles facing LGBT Mexican refugees within Canada’s refugee system. Despite the evidence that points to the danger he faces if returned to Mexico, Canada has decided to deport Manuel and maintains a false and unjustifiable opinion that Mexico can protect its citizens. This is symptomatic of Canada’s lack of responsibility towards its international human rights obligations, also seen in recently approved Bill C-31. One extremely problematic aspect of Bill C-31 is the fact that refugees who are identified as coming from a “safe country” would have their refugee claim fast tracked, with no access to appeal. It’s clear that Mexico is one of those countries slated to be identified as “safe”.  Bill C-31 goes against the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, the Geneva Convention (international refugee protection convention) and the International Convention for the Rights of the Child.
The exclusionary nature of Bill C-31 recalls Canada’s disturbing history of racist and discriminatory immigration and refugee policy, such as excluding South Asian and Chinese migrants, rejecting Jewish refugees and detaining Japanese-Canadians. Bill C-31 will make an already difficult refugee process, even more difficult, increasing the number of migrants and refugees facing detention and deportation. In the face of this reality, we raise the serious question as to whether the government has decided to prioritize their free trade agreement with Mexico rather than respecting fundamental human rights, especially considering that since 2009, two Mexican women, who were refused asylum in Canada, were assassinated upon their return to Mexico.
It is for all these reasons that we urge the Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney that Manuel receive a stay of deportation until the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has been able to make a decision based on their investigation. In addition, we continue to urge the Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney intervene and use his discretionary powers to provide Manuel with permanent residency status.
For more information, please contact mexicanxsunidxs@gmail.com
 
Signed by: Mexicains unis pour la régularisation (MUR) and Action LGBTQ avec immigrants et réfugiés (AGIR)
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