Canada Seeks To Overturn South Africa Refugee Ruling

Canada seeks to overturn S.Africa refugee ruling

Thu Sep 3, 2009 5:10pm EDT

OTTAWA (Reuters) – The Canadian government is going to court to try to overturn a controversial decision to grant refugee status to a white South African who said he suffered racist attacks at home, an official said on Thursday.

The move by an Immigration and Refugee Board (IRB) panel to grant South African Brandon Huntley residence on the grounds that he was persecuted for being white has prompted official protests from South Africa, where apartheid ended 15 years ago.

“With regard to the Brandon Huntley case, the government is seeking leave to challenge the IRB decision before the Federal Court,” said a spokeswoman for Canada's federal citizenship and immigration department.

The Federal Court will take about a month to decide whether to hear the case and if it agrees to do so, it will hold a hearing roughly three months after that, said a spokesman.

If the court did examine the case, it would stick to the evidence presented to the initial panel and would not be able to consider additional material.

South Africa's government has been pressing Ottawa to review the case. The governing African National Congress says it doubts a white South African could have suffered such racist attacks in his home country.

The IRB is an independent tribunal that operates at arm's length from the Canadian government and makes decisions solely on evidence.

(Reporting by David Ljunggren; editing by Peter Galloway)