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431-00051 (Foreign affairs)

Paper petition

Original language of petition: English

PETITION TO THE GOVERNMENT OF CANADA

We, the undersigned residents of Canada, draw your attention to reach out to the government of Thailand to suspend the arrests, detention, and deportation of Pakistani asylum seekers seeking refuge from religious persecution, violence, and threats of death in Pakistan.

The recent crackdown on asylum seekers in Thailand has shaken and deeply affected the Canadian Christian Community of Pakistani origin. Pakistani asylum seekers fled their homes with hopes of resettling in countries where they could freely practice their religion without fear of being victimized under Blasphemy laws.

We, as Canadian citizens, urge the government of Canada to take up this matter urgently with the government of Thailand and urge for the protection and humane treatment of Pakistani asylum seekers. These asylum seekers must be provided the opportunity to apply for refugee status with the UNHCR and for resettlement without being arrested, detained, or deported.

Response by the Minister of Foreign Affairs

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne

The Government of Canada firmly opposes the discrimination or persecution of any group or individual on any grounds, including based on their religion or beliefs. Global Affairs Canada, through its Office of Human Rights, Freedoms and Inclusion, works to promote the freedom of religion or belief internationally, through a variety of channels. Likewise, senior officials at Global Affairs Canada and our Embassy in Thailand have repeatedly voiced our strong concerns with Thai authorities regarding human rights, and specifically, international humanitarian law. 

Canada works with like-minded states at the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in New York and the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) in Geneva to ensure that resolutions involving freedom of religion or belief truly aim to protect believers from persecution. Canada also founded the International Contact Group for Freedom of Religion or Belief (ICG-FoRB) in June 2015, which brings together a number of like-minded countries to discuss new approaches and good practices for promoting freedom of religion or belief internationally. The ICG-FoRB, which Canada presently co-chairs with the United States, meets bi-annually to discuss ongoing challenges to the rights of faith and belief communities around the world, as well as innovative ways to collaborate in an effort to protect those rights.

On a bilateral basis, Canada raises freedom of religion or belief violations with countries of particular concern at every opportunity.

Through our High Commission in Islamabad and other high-level channels, Canada has made its views on freedom of religion or belief and the abuse of the blasphemy laws known directly to national and provincial authorities in Pakistan. Canada’s latest recommendation during Pakistan’s Universal Periodic Review at the UNHRC, calls on Pakistan to: “Implement effective measures to prevent violence, persecution and discrimination on the basis of religion and, in particular, take effective steps to reduce the misuse of blasphemy laws by requiring all cases to undergo prior judicial review and authorization before charges may proceed.”

Moreover, the Government of Canada consistently raises the challenges faced by refugees and asylum seekers in Thailand, including their detainment at immigration facilities while they await UNHCR status determination and processing. Senior officials of Global Affairs Canada, together with the Embassy of Canada in Thailand, work closely with various stakeholders, including UNHCR, like-minded embassies and civil society, to advocate in favour of greater respect for international humanitarian law in Thailand, including the importance of finding alternatives to detention.

One example of Canada’s action was a recommendation made to Thailand during its second cycle UPR at the UNHRC in May 2016, which focused on the need for Thailand to provide access to legal status for asylum seekers and refugees without discrimination, end arbitrary detention, and implement effective legal safeguards against refoulement consistent with international human rights and refugee laws.Furthermore, representatives from Global Affairs Canada in Ottawa and the Embassy of Canada in Thailand have met with community groups for Pakistani Christians and the latter has raised this issue directly with the Government of Thailand.

Canada will continue to strongly advocate for the promotion and protection of the freedom of religion or belief around the globe and support refugees and asylum seekers that have settled in Thailand.

Presented to the House of Commons
Garnett Genuis (Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan)
January 31, 2020 (Petition No. 431-00051)
Government response tabled
April 11, 2020
Photo - Garnett Genuis
Sherwood Park—Fort Saskatchewan
Conservative Caucus
Alberta

Only validated signatures are counted towards the total number of signatures.

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