Bheki Mbanjwa, IOL, June 20, 2014
The South African man who sought refuge in Canada by saying he feared persecution from blacks, has lost his latest bid to remain in that country.
The Canadian Federal Court has upheld the decision of the Immigration and Refugee Board which refused to grant Brandon Huntley refugee status.
He had claimed he could not return to South Africa as whites were “targeted, attacked and killed because of their skin colour”. He also said he did not trust the South African judiciary and that legislation only “theoretically” provided recourse for addressing persecution, hence his application for refugee status.
Judge Catherine Kane ruled this week that refugee protection is considered a substitute protection in the event of a country failing to provide protection and that Huntley had failed to provide evidence that he would not get such protection in his home country.
“Persecuted individuals are required to first approach their home state for protection and to exhaust all efforts that are reasonable in the circumstances before seeking refugee protection in other countries,” said Kane in the judgment.
According to Canadian Immigration laws, Huntley is now under a removal order which means he must leave Canada within 30 days from the day of the court’s judgment.
He can now petition for leave to appeal in order to take the matter to the Federal Court of Appeal and from there he can also take it to the Supreme Court.
Huntley, who first entered Canada on a temporary work permit in 2004, was initially granted refugee status by the board in 2009.
But upon judicial review that decision was found to be unreasonable and a judge ordered that Huntley’s application be heard by a newly constituted panel of the board.
In his original application, made in April 2008, Huntley had claimed that:
“In 2000, he received delayed medical treatment (stitches and x-rays) in favour of black patients at a hospital where all the staff were black;
“He applied to the Home Office for a passport and had to return three days in a row to submit his passport application because black citizens were permitted to go ahead of him in line;
“He was required to submit additional documentation not required of black applicants when making his application for his work permit for Canada;
“He was unable to get a job in South Africa due to affirmative action;
“He was assaulted and stabbed at least six times since he was a teenager by black South Africans because of his race. During these incidents, he was subjected to racial slurs;
“He is aware of other white South Africans who have been ‘hijacked’ and/or assaulted;
“Members of the (ANC) chanted phrases such as ‘Kill the whites’; and,
“Members of his family in Roodeport have hired a security company to follow them if they have to drive at night.”
He had however never reported any of the alleged crimes against him to the police.
In January last year the newly constituted board found that Huntley was not a person in need of protection. The board questioned some of Huntley’s assertions including his explanation why he had delayed his application for refugee status only until 2008. His explanation on this delay had included that he only became aware that he could make a refugee claim in June 2007, that he had held a belief that he needed to be bilingual to become a permanent Canadian resident and what it took to fill in the forms.
Huntley took that decision on appeal, claiming the board had ignored evidence of racism and persecution of whites. He also submitted to the court that the board failed to consider his “fears of the president and other political leaders who chant and sing songs inciting violence against white people”.
He also claimed he feared reprisals after his application for refugee status attracted a lot of media attention. He said he “believes he would be flagged at the airport upon arrival”.