Contributing Lawyers


Cyndee Todgham Cherniak

United States

Susan Kohn Ross


Andrew Hudson

Canada's Rejection of Refugee Claims by Colombians Blamed on Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

Jennifer O'Brien at QMI Agency is reporting that Canada's Immigration & Refugee Board has rejected a growing number of refugee claims made by persons from Colombia. She reports that:

"Colombia remains on Canada's list of top 10 source countries for refugees. For the last 10 years, the acceptance rates for Colombian refugee claimants has hovered between 75 and 83%.

In 2010, the rate dropped to 53%, meaning almost half the claimants were denied."

The speculation is that the negotiation and signing of the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement is the reason for the rejection of refugee claims. The speculation is that since Canada entered into a free trade agreement with Colombia, it does not view Colombia as a dangerous place in which to live.

If you would like to read Jennifer O'Brien's entire article, please go to the following link -

For more information about the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement, please go to the following link -

One chapter of particular importance in the Canada-Colombia FTA is Chapter 12 "Temporary Entry for Business Persons". This chapter relates to labour mobility and sets out rules for entry into Canada of persons from Colombia (from a business perspective).

It does not appear the free trade agreement experts have been called in to testify before the Immigration and Refugee Board as to what the signing of a free trade agreement means. It also does not appear that arguments have been raised relating to the fact that to date, the Colombians have not ratified the Canada-Colombia free trade agreement by passing the necessary laws and, therefore, the Canada-Colombia FTA is not yet in effect. What does this mean?

For more information, please contact Cyndee Todgham Cherniak at 416-307-4168. Cyndee Todgham Cherniak is a trade lawyer affiliated with McMillan LLP and an adjunct law professor at Case Western Reserve University School of Law and teaches a course on NAFTA and free trade agreements. She has reviewed over 150 free trade agreements/regional trading arrangements when writing a report for the Asian Development Bank in 2007/2008.

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