Like many middle class teenagers in 1970s Kabul, Shabnam grew up assuming she would go to university. Her father was a prominent legal scholar and a progressive who worked at Afghanistan’s Supreme Court, and he had always encouraged his daughter’s education. He was in step with the times ushered in by a Soviet-backed government that, for all its political abuses and religious repression, at least got women educated. Her fiancé, however, was just the opposite.
Name changed to protect identity.
Would Shabnam get in to Canada today?
Claim analysis by Andrew Brouwer
Shabnam should not have serious difficulties in accessing and receiving refugee protection in Canada. In any event, she will not be deported as Canada has temporarily halted deportations to Afghanistan because of the insecure situation there.
Upon initiating her refugee claim, she will have 15 days to find a lawyer and complete and submit her Basis of Claim forms. Her hearing will take place 60 days later.
While there are a number of areas that a Board member would likely focus on in a hearing, it seems likely that Shabnam would succeed under the current Canadian refugee determination system.
Shabnam would be asked to provide proof of the threats she received in Afghanistan. If by chance she kept some of the written threats, she would likely have difficulty obtaining them as they were presumably left in her home. She would need to arrange for someone to go into her apartment, retrieve them, and mail them to Canada, something she might be reluctant to ask her daughters or friends to do given the risks involved. And mail from Afghanistan is at best glacially slow, when it arrives at all.
Even without the threats, however, because she worked for the UN and had ongoing email contact with her employer in Afghanistan, it appears she would have little difficulty in quickly obtaining proof of her employment. Since her work for the UN is a central basis of her claim for refugee protection, this corroboration would go a long way in supporting her credibility, even if she is unable to provide proof of the threats themselves.
She will be asked why she didn’t seek refugee protection earlier, either in Canada or during other foreign trips, especially to the USA where she visited the White House. However, so long as she can provide a reasonable explanation – and so long as she has a reasonable Board member hearing her claim – this should not be a major hurdle to overcome.
If she is refused she can appeal the decision to the Refugee Appeal Division, where she might succeed if, for example, the threats have arrived by mail after the first hearing, or if she can show that the Board made an error when refusing her claim. If she is unsuccessful on appeal, she could seek leave in Federal Court for judicial review of the RAD decision (though the Federal Court generally takes a “hands-off” approach to decisions by the RAD).
It is likely that Shabnam and her son would succeed in their refugee claim under Canada’s current refugee determination system.