Throughout history, people have been forced to migrate due to persecution, war and/or other perilous circumstances. Those seeking refugee status in other countries must undergo processes to determine whether their claims for asylum are valid under applicable legal standards. This course examines the various components of refugee law within international, regional and national frameworks. The course considers Indigenous practices related to historical practices of protection for those fleeing persecution and seeking protection within Indigenous communities. The course will analyze international treaties and other materials produced by organizations such as the United Nations and specific agencies such as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. With respect to national frameworks, emphasis will be placed on the Canadian legal context, while sources and materials from other national jurisdictions will also be employed to provide useful comparisons and contrasts.
Throughout the course, students will become knowledgeable with the complexities of how refugee status is defined and the ways in which asylum seekers may be excluded from obtaining this status. Students will also become familiarized with certain key administrative law issues connected with refugee status determinations.
The following are topics that are likely to be covered during the semester:
- Concepts such as persecution, state protection and internal flight alternatives;
- Specific grounds for persecution with a special focus on “political opinion” and “membership in a particular social group”;
- Grounds for exclusion – article 1F of the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees –commission of certain crimes, e.g. war crimes, crimes against humanity, serious non-political crimes and crimes that are contrary to the principles and purposes of the United Nations;
- Administrative law issues related to reasonable apprehension of bias, procedural fairness, and standards of review;
- Evidentiary issues in mounting a claim for refugee status;
- Different routes available for individuals to seek refugee status.
Please note: This course does not cover Canadian immigration law relating to economic or family class admissions. The Citizenship and Immigration Law course addresses these and other topics and does not overlap with this course.