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November 25, 2011

A Sample of Federal Court decisions

Ottawa

Postmedia News

The Ottawa Citizen

OTTAWA ?In the first six months of this year, the Federal Court overturned 184 citizenship and immigration decisions made by tribunals, officers and citizenship judges. Here is a sample of those cases.

The background: Kargbo is a citizen of Sierra Leone. In 2000, she was kidnapped and forced by rebels to live as a captive “wife.” After a year, she escaped and eventually made her way to Canada, where she was accepted as a refugee. She became a permanent resident in 2006.

Her husband died in Sierra Leone’s civil war. At the time of the Federal Court ruling, she had not seen her two children since 2000. But several years ago, she discovered their whereabouts and submitted sponsorship and permanent residence applications to bring them to Canada, ultimately asking that the applications be considered on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

Her application was twice refused in error. As a result, the government agreed in 2010 to have her case heard again by a different officer. Kargbo’s lawyer asked the Federal Court to direct the government that she and her children had sufficient humanitarian and compassionate grounds and to make a final determination within a set time. They also asked for an award of costs, highly unusual in such cases.

The Federal Court decision: Justice James Russell said the facts of the case present “an extremely compelling case of unusual, undeserved and disproportionate hardship.

“This is a case that, from the beginning, cried out for compassion and prompt action,” Russell wrote. Kargbo and her son and daughter “have faced trauma that simply cannot be comprehended by most people.”

The Kargbos, he said, have been treated insensitively, subjected to needless delays and needless resistance in rectifying “obvious mistakes.” He could see nothing, he wrote, that should prevent a positive decision on humanitarian and compassionate grounds.

The judge gave the government seven days to redetermine the issue and notify the Kargbos. And he awarded them $4,000 in special costs because of its officials’ “careless mistakes” and the minister’s “unfair and oppressive” approach to the case, which only changed shortly before the judicial review hearing.

Update: Following the court’s direction, the government swiftly approved Kargbo’s application. Her children are now permanent residents of Canada, reunited with their mother for the first time in 11 years.

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