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World: Canada To Tighten Refugee Claimant Rules

Ottawa, 7 January 1997 (RFE/RL) - Canada is going to make it harder for people whose refugee claims have been refused to remain in the country.

Immigration Commissioner Lucienne Robillard has announced an end to an amnesty-type program that permitted unsuccessful claimants to stay permanently if they had been in Canada for three years.

Since the program began in 1994, more than 6,200 people have applied to become permanent residents. Of that number, about 75 percent have been accepted. Most of the applicants have been Chinese who were in Canada at the time of the Tiananmen Square massacre and feared returning home.

Robillard says there is no longer a need for the special program because Canada has resumed deporting failed refugee claimants to China and other countries. And, she says, to continue it would simply encourage unsuccessful claimants to delay their removal from Canada for three years, by appealing decisions, so they could qualify to stay permanently.

Currently, the only nations to which Canada refuses to deport people are Rwanda, Burundi and Afghanistan.