OTTAWA (Canada), July 17, 2017 – The Canadian attorneys representing “Snowden’s Guardian Angels” are taking urgent legal action against the Canadian government over bureaucratic delays in their refugee claims. For the Refugees, a Montreal-based not-for-profit organisation, filed private sponsorship applications in January for the three families of asylum-seekers who lawfully assisted Edward Snowden when he was in Hong Kong in 2013. Their applications have been stalled at the Canadian consular office in Hong Kong, where they arrived for processing in early April.
On May 8th, the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship acknowledged the urgency of the situation and committed to expedite processing of the applications, but the Canadian consulate reported this month that their files have not been expedited, and the Minister has not responded to requests for an explanation.
Due to the clear risk that such bureaucratic delays pose to the lives of these families, their attorneys are taking the extraordinary step of asking a Federal Court judge to order the Canadian Government to respect its obligations to protect refugees, especially children, and process the families’ claims immediately so that they can be relocated to safety in Canada.
“The families are extremely vulnerable and politically persecuted in Hong Kong,” said lawyer Marc-André Séguin. “Faced with imminent deportation, the parents can be arrested at any time and separated from their minor children. They will be imprisoned or even killed if returned to their home countries of Sri Lanka and the Philippines.”
“Once the families are arrested, it will severely compromise our ability to ever relocate them to Canada,” said lawyer Michael Simkin, who also represents the refugees. “Our clients’ lives are at stake, and this may be their last chance to escape a horrific fate. We are confident a Federal Court judge will come to the same conclusion.”
The families face growing threats including from Sri Lankan operatives reported to be looking for them in Hong Kong. Hong Kong rejected their asylum claims and has told the families to report to a detention center on August 1st, despite pending appeals, at which point the parents will be arrested and their children will be put in foster care while they await deportation.
This legal action may be the families’ last hope to find safety.
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The press conference will be broadcast via Facebook Live at https://www.facebook.com/4TheRefugees
For more information or to schedule an interview with the attorneys, the families or their counsel in Hong Kong, please contact:
Edward Snowden’s “guardian angels” made international headlines in 2016 with the release of Oliver Stone’s film “Snowden”, which included a scene that alerted the international community to their existence. Since then, their situation has become even more dire.
The families originate from Sri Lanka and the Philippines. Their children were born in Hong Kong and are stateless. They face institutional discrimination and social segregation in Hong Kong as well as persecution in their home countries.
Joined by Edward Snowden’s attorney, Barrister-at-law and Montreal native Robert Tibbo, the Montreal attorneys who are representing the three families in their Canadian immigration proceedings (Marc-André Séguin, Michael Simkin, and Francis Tourigny) have petitioned the Canadian government to accept them as refugees.
For the Refugees has undertaken to meet the families’ financial needs as well as to assist them in integrating into their new community. Their acceptance and relocation to Canada would come at no cost to the Canadian taxpayer.
For more information, please visit: https://fortherefugees.com
For access to the full press conference recorded on Facebook Live, please visit: https://www.facebook.com/4TheRefugees