Refugee claims have been filed in Canada on behalf of the asylum seekers who sheltered former US intelligence contractor Edward Snowden in Hong Kong in 2013, lawyers involved in the matter revealed yesterday.
The group of three lawyers who filed the claims on January 26, and have worked with Hong Kong-based Canadian barrister Robert Tibbo on the case, are now calling on Canadian immigration minister Ahmed Hussen to use his discretionary powers to expedite the applications.
“Over the course of the past few weeks, we felt compelled to take an additional step forward, so we formally petitioned the Canadian government to take these clients as refugees,” Montreal-based immigration lawyer Marc-André Séguin said.
Claims emerged recently that Sri Lankan police had been in the Hong Kong looking for some of the refugees however, the authority denied doing so.
“It’s very clear that discretionary power should be applied,” Séguin said, referring to the Canadian immigration minister’s authority to speed up the processing of claims.
“These are people who fled persecution, who today in Hong Kong have no future as a result of the very nature of the system applicable to asylum seekers, and who are being actively sought after by authorities from their home countries,” he added.
Hong Kong’s asylum seeker acceptance rate stands at 0.6 per cent. In the few cases that have been substantiated, applicants were referred to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees for resettlement in a third country.
“It’s up to Canada now to do the right thing,” Séguin said.