Joint seminar series looks at refugee law in Canada and UK

Ross Pattee head shot

York’s Centre for Refugee Studies (CRS) in collaboration with the University of London’s Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) in the United Kingdom has developed a new joint seminar series that will bring together prominent speakers from both countries.

The Challenge of Change: Confronting Asylum Law and Practice in the UK and Canada seminar series will feature Alison Harvey, secretary-general of the Immigration Law Practitioners Association in Ross Pattee head shotthe UK and Ross Pattee, deputy chair of the Refugee Protection Division of the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, as its first speakers. The joint seminar will be conducted via the Internet using LYNC technology.

Ross Pattee

Pattee and Harvey will discuss Whither Refugee Protection in the Reform of Canadian and British Asylum Systems? Wednesday, Oct. 17, from 12:30 to 2pm, at 120E Stedman Lecture Hall, Keele campus. Everyone is welcome to attend this free event.

This special joint series is part of the CRS/CERIS  (Centre for Excellence in Research in Immigration Settlement) Public Seminar Series that incorporates a wide program of public seminars intended to present the latest research findings in the field of refugee and migration studies.

With major cuts in government spending programs at the federal, provincial and local levels this has had a dramatic impact on the provision of various services to newcomers and, specifically, refugees in Canada. Similar major cuts in government spending have occurred in the United Kingdom along with reforms to their asylum system,” says James Simeon, acting director of the Centre for Refugee Studies and a professor in the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies’ James Simeon head shotSchool of Public Policy & Administration. The joint public seminar series is intended to highlight some of the most significant changes to refugee laws and policies that are occurring in both Canada and the United Kingdom.

James Simeon

“In Canada, the government has introduced a number of significant structural and procedural changes to the refugee status determination system in Canada that are highly contentious and contested,” he says. “These changes have resulted in widespread criticism from legal practitioners and other professionals, as well as a broad spectrum of refugee advocacy groups. There is no doubt that the legislation introduced by the Canadian Government will be challenged in the court system.”

Refugee protection is fundamentally international in its scope and needs to be considered from both a comparative and global perspective. This seminar series seeks to approach changes in refugee law and policies not only from a state perspective but also from a comparative and an international perspective.

“We hope to be able learn from each country’s common experiences in this regard, as well as to share information and approaches in dealing with these public policy measures to protect and, hopefully, advance the rights and interests of refugees and other forced migrants in this time of major change,” says Simeon.

The Centre for Refugee Studies engages in research on refugee issues, informs public discussion as well as policy development and practice innovation by international, governmental, advocacy and service organizations, and supports teaching in refugee and migration studies. The RLI is the only academic centre in the UK to concentrate specifically on international refugee law.

Seminar Two: Fast Track Asylum Processes: UK and Canadian Perspectives

Wednesday, Nov. 14, from 12:30 to 2pm, at 120E Stedman Lecture Hall, Keele campus.

Speakers: Barbara Jackman, barrister and solicitor, Jackman, Nazami & Associates, and Mark Symes, barrister, Garden Court Chambers.

Seminar Three: Deterrence through Detention: The Implications for Asylum in Canada and the UK

Thursday, Jan. 31, from 12:30 to 2pm, at 120E Stedman Lecture Hall, Keele campus.

Speakers: Janet Cleveland, psychologist and researcher, Transcultural Research and Intervention Team, Division of Social and Cultural Psychiatry, McGill University (UK based speakers to be confirmed).

Seminar Four: The Cruellest Cut? Eliminating Legal Representation from Asylum-Seekers in the UK and Canada

Thursday, March 14, 12:30 to 2pm, at 120E Stedman Lecture Hall, Keele campus.

Speakers: Carol Dahan, legal counsel, Refugee Law Office, Legal Aid Ontario (UK based speakers to be confirmed).

For more information about the series and upcoming speakers, visit the Centre for Refugee Studies website or the Refugee Law Initiative website.