10 Jan 2016

Canada Denies Refugee Status to Black Man Who Said He Was Fleeing US Police Brutality

A black US citizen who sought refugee status in Canada, claiming he was afraid of police violence against black people, has returned to the US since his application was rejected in December.
Kyle Lydell Canty said he crossed the border into British Columbia in early September to visit and take photos, but two days later, decided to stay and apply for refugee status.
At an Immigration and Refugee Board hearing in October, where he represented himself, Canty argued that black people are "being exterminated at an alarming rate" in the US, and presented exhibits meant to demonstrate the human rights conditions in his home country, including videos of his own and others' experiences of being harassed by cops, various news reports, and the handbook from the UN refugee agency UNHCR on determining refugee status.
"I then presented evidence specifically dealing with me, such as documents dealing with false arrests, no probable cause, evidence of extortion on behalf of the police departments and courts," he told VICE News in October.
But the IRB has found Canty doesn't have a well-founded fear of persecution under UN grounds — race, nationality, religion, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion — in the US. The board's Ron Yamauchi wrote in his decision that Canty's deportation back to the US wouldn't "subject him personally to a risk to his life or to a risk of cruel and unusual treatment or punishment," and that there were no substantial grounds to believe he'd be subjected to torture.
Canty, who alleges that he's been harassed by police in each of the six states he's lived in, faces charges including jaywalking, trespassing, threats and intimidation, and disorderly conduct in the US. He denies being guilty of any of them.
While Yamauchi did find Canty credible, he wrote the self-shot videos Canty provided of his interactions with American police did "raise a question about his subjective fear," which is a requirement of a positive refugee determination under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act.
'All of this is political and has nothing to do with refugee law.'
"On these clips the claimant is interacting with police officers, addressing them with comments such as 'You guys are just ridiculous' and 'You're dumb,'" he wrote. "His demeanor, in these videos, is not redolent of intimidation."
Having said that, Yamauchi believed Canty was "clearly addressing an unseen viewer," and that he was was acting boldly "partly for reasons of performance." He did find Canty to have a genuine fear of returning to the US.
Yamauchi mentioned evidence presented by Canty on racial profiling in the US and the criminal justice system's treatment of minorities, and acknowledged there was a risk Canty could be stopped and questioned by police because he is black.
However, he wrote that Canty's own experiences hadn't resulted in assault, extensive detention, or lack of due process. Considering the examples Canty submitted about police abuse faced by others, Yamauchi also found "victim precipitation" was a recurring factor and that there wasn't a lot of evidence of victims who had followed police instructions.
Yamauchi also wrote that harassment and discrimination don't merit refugee protection unless "they're serious or systematic enough to be characterized as persecution," which is serious harm, or an interference with a basic human right. Being subjected to laws and being arrested without injury or brutality is not persecution, he wrote.
In an email this week, Canty claimed he was thrown in jail for trying to move to Ottawa without informing the proper authorities, which he says he did. VICE News could not independently confirm this claim.
"All of this is political and has nothing to do with refugee law," he wrote.

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