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Rights groups react to Federal Court decision on citizenship revocation moratorium

For immediate release

VANCOUVER/TORONTO – The BC Civil Liberties Association (BCCLA) and Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers (CARL) are disappointed that the Federal Court has denied their application for a moratorium on citizenship revocations. The groups sought a stay of all revocation proceedings until a new and fair process is established or the constitutionality of the existing process is determined. Today, the Federal Court dismissed the groups’ motion.

“The Federal Court’s decision means that people will continue to lose their citizenship without a right to a fair hearing before an independent decision-maker” says Lorne Waldman, counsel for CARL. “We brought this application to prevent people from falling through the cracks and finding themselves stripped of their citizenship without due process. We’re disappointed the Court did not see the urgency of the situation. However, we will continue to fight for fairness in revocation proceedings and we’ll be back in court again next week to argue that the process is unconstitutional.”

The Court pointed to a decision from January 2016 called Monla that allows individuals to obtain a stay of revocation proceedings commenced against them. Individual stays would remain in force until a new process is in place or the court rules on the constitutional challenge, which is set to be heard on November 15-17. However, the BCCLA and CARL fear that many individuals will not be able to obtain individual stays because they lack the knowledge or resources to retain counsel and file an application.

“Today’s decision makes the Senate’s work to amend Bill C-6 and create a fair procedure all the more urgent,” says Laura Track, staff lawyer with the BCCLA. “The government has stated it is willing to fix this problem by reinstating the right to a fair hearing. But it’s perplexing that the government could agree that the process is unfair and needs to be changed, yet remain adamant that it will continue to use the unfair process until that change is made. We hope the Senate will act quickly to address this critical situation.”