March 16th, 2021
Letter to Minister Mendicino
Regarding improving the Canadian Government's lifeboat offer to Hong Kongers
We the undersigned, are writing to raise our concern about the mass charging of 47 pro-democracy activists with subversion under the National Security Law in Hong Kong. The subsequent trial of the 47 represents the largest prosecution of pro-democracy activists in the history of the territory and marks further evidence of the fast deterioration of Hong Kong's autonomy, democracy, and the rule of law. Almost all of the prominent leaders of the pro-democracy parties are now in exile, in jail, or await trial and sentencing.
It is clear that the human rights situation is deteriorating at a worrying pace, with many Hong Kongers desperate for a lifeline out of the city. The current COVID-19 travel restrictions place a substantial obstacle to the ability of individuals from Hong Kong to find safe refuge. With that in mind, we urge you to consider introducing the following measures to ensure as many Hong Kongers as possible are able to take up the Canadian Government's offer of a lifeboat:
- Allow Hong Kongers the opportunity to start the asylum application process at Canadian embassies and consulates outside of Hong Kong.
- Allow Hong Kongers in third party countries who are sponsored by Canadian citizens to travel to Canada to start their asylum process.
- Commit to ensuring a waiver for cases of political persecution, includes ensuring political political convictions for "rioting" or "unlawful assembly" are not grounds for inadmissibility to apply for asylum.
- With the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Pilot as reference, establish specific initiatives to support the most politically-exposed individuals.
- Extend the Youth Mobility International Experience Canada Program to two years and expand the age group to 18-35.
- Consider exercising legislative authority of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act of 2002 to issue Ministerial Instructions where necessary to cover the loopholes.
Taken together, we believe these packages of measures would improve the Government's lifeboat scheme for Hong Kongers and ensure that the most vulnerable pro-democracy activists are able to find safe haven in Canada.
We must live up to our historic relationship and shared values with the people of Hong Kong. The trial of the 47 pro-democracy activists in Hong Kong demands action. We hope that the Government will move swiftly to adopt these proposals and work with likeminded partners to ensure that every Hong Konger who needs a lifeline out of the city has one.