“To those fleeing persecution, terror & war, Canadians will welcome you, regardless of your faith. Diversity is our strength.”
Those were the words that Justin Trudeau, prime minister of Canada, wrote on Twitter earlier this year. A touching thought but not exactly the stance that Trudeau has taken for all refugees. A new report reveals that Canada is more than willing to ship people back to China when asked. This has caused human rights advocates to question the government’s motives.
Canada and China do not have a formal treaty for extradition. In fact, Trudeau has stated that his country will not agree to a treaty out of concern for alleged abuses of prisoners by the Chinese government. That supposed uneasiness did not stop the country to our north from deporting 1,386 people back to China over the past three years.
— Justin Trudeau (@JustinTrudeau) January 28, 2017
China’s treatment of its prisoners, and how they convict them in the first place, has many in the world concerned. The United Nations Committee Against Torture has stated that in China, “the practice of torture and ill-treatment is still deeply entrenched in the criminal-justice system.” Even the foreign service in Canada has agreed. Recently they took part in the creation of a letter saying there are “credible claims of torture” of prisoners being interrogated.
Sharryn Aiken, an expert on immigration and refugee law at Queen’s University, confirms that monitoring is necessary when people are returned to China “There’s a need for very significant and enforceable assurances about the treatment they will receive and monitoring on the part of Canada – which Canada has not done. And in the absence of monitoring, people die in jail.”
China’s system is questionable at best and deadly at worst. They employ a furtive legal organization known as shuanggui. This Communist process allows for people to be held without charges or access to a lawyer for long stretches. Unsurprisingly, a confession often results.
Discussion of this tactic is not even allowed in Chinese courts, adding more weight to corruption allegations. A recent escapee from China suffered through five days of shuanggui. He told of being forced to sit in one position for extended periods as well as being screamed at, insulted, and subjected to swearing by the guards.
He reached a breaking point quickly. “I thought it would be better to be dead.” Once he reached Canada, he was still not safe. He says he received more than 10 calls from officials including a member of the Communist Party who warned: “if I did not co-operate, I would be classified as a suspect and would be placed under Interpol.”
These Interpol “Red Notices” can be the start of the deportation process by Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA). This is treacherous because even people with permanent Canadian residence can be legally removed. Professor Aiken says “The evidence necessary in order to find that somebody is deportable on the basis of criminality is very, very slim.”
All of this is done easily and often according to records. In 2004 Rou Lan Xie was accused of embezzlement by China. A Canadian court determined that a Chinese arrest warrant and the possession of a large amount of money was sufficient “to consider that the appellant had committed a serious crime. The fact that this evidence falls far short of the standard of proof in criminal cases is of no moment. The issue is not whether the appellant committed the crime of which she is accused. The issue is whether there are serious reasons for considering that she did.”
The problem is not that Canada does not have a means of following up on these deported individuals. Before a person is sent back, immigration can do a “pre-removal risk assessment.” This is supposed to gauge if a person is in danger of mistreatment upon arrival in their own country. A CBSA spokesman, Nicholas Dorion, told reporters said the process in “in place to ensure that a person will not be removed to a country where they could face death or torture.”
Douglas Cannon, a Vancouver immigration lawyer, claims that it is not enough. “Many of us don’t feel it’s really an effective safeguard. Especially in the case of people who are being sent back to face prosecution in China.”
The former Canadian ambassador to China, David Mulroney states that demands for deportations from China are asking “to send people back into a very murky and worrisome Chinese system. You have to be very sure that you are not on the Canadian side enabling the Chinese to unfairly prosecute someone.”
While Ottawa does have the power to demand assurances from China, it did in the case of a notorious smuggler in 2011, the ability is seldom used.
Mulroney is urging Ottawa to not cooperate with Beijing in most instances. He says this should include the majority of corruption cases. Even Professor Aiken says that Canada neglects to use their most basic security measures for these people. “Canada needs to actually step up and do the monitoring – and not just hand off a person and say it’s not our problem.”
With such overwhelming proof of humanitarian violations, Canada should not be allowed to shirk their responsibilities. It is an especially disturbing trend since Trudeau has been so quick to condemn America’s attempts to reorganize immigration priorities.
Perhaps the Canadian prime minister should show more time reviewing his dangerous deportation policies than congratulating his country for being diverse.