A Year’s Wait For Refugee Huntley?

A year's wait for refugee Huntley?

By Eleanor Momberg
Sunday Independent
September 06 2009 at 11:38AM

Brandon Huntley may only know in a year whether the refugee status granted by the Canadian Immigration Board a week ago will be revoked or not.

This is according to Canada's Department of Citizenship and Immigration, which decided last week to apply to the Federal Court for leave for a judicial review of the ruling that saw Huntley being granted refugee status on the grounds that he was being persecuted by black people in South Africa.

Huntley, 31, had said in his application that he was persecuted as a white man in South Africa and that he had been the victim of seven attempted robberies and been called a “white dog” and a “settler”.

He had told the refugee board that he had been stabbed three times during the attacks, but that he had not reported any of the crimes to the police because he did not trust them.

Kelli Fraser, spokesperson for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, would not be drawn on what had caused the Canadian government to decide to appeal the decision that had caused a strain in diplomatic relations with South Africa. She said any decision to seek leave for judicial review was made based on the merits of the case.

Fraser said the government's position would only be available when its argument was filed with the Federal Court.

“It usually takes four to six months to learn if the Federal Court will hear the case, and several months after that for a decision. If the Federal Court agrees with the government's position, it will ask that the case be re-determined,” she said.

Danielle Norris, spokesperson for the Department of Citizenship and Immigration, said a judicial review by the Federal Court would not hear additional evidence with respect to, say, conditions in South Africa.

Abraham Nkomo, South Africa's High Commissioner to Canada, said he had been told of the Canadian government's decision and that the court would take between 30 and 90 days to review the asylum ruling.

“They have understood our case and submission, and want to place on record that they have a very high regard for South Africa's track record, its inter-racial harmony and democracy that have been observed in our country,” he said.

“They also take into regard the bilateral relations between our two countries, which are very strong.”

Following the furore, Huntley went to ground.