Shock at refugee verdict

2009-09-02 00:00

JOHANNESBURG — The decision to grant a white South African refugee status in Canada, since he feels he will be oppressed if he returns to the country, “borders on racism”.

This was the reaction yesterday of Jacob van Garderen, director of Lawyers for Human Rights, regarding the decision to grant refugee status to Brandon Huntley (31).

Van Garderen said the decision is not in line with international refugee laws.

“It’s a shocking verdict, which is based on untruths and serious misperceptions, that only white people are affected by crime, and that the government does nothing and silently allows the situation to continue. It’s nonsense.

“In order to comply [with the requirements for refugee status] under Canadian law, you must prove that you are politically persecuted, your life is in danger due to your political convictions or race, and that the government can’t or won’t do anything about the situation. That is not the case,” he said.

Huntley alleged that he had been attacked seven times and called a “white dog”, “settler” and “boer” by black attackers.

William Davis, chair of the tribunal panel, found that Huntley’s fear of persecution by black South Africans is justified. Among other things, he referred to affirmative action and black economic empowerment in his verdict.

However, this verdict could be revised.

Although the Canadian immigration and refugee council did not want to make specific comments regarding the case, since it is confidential according to the law, they did say the decision could be revised.

If the Canadian government or a person who is involved with the case wishes the case to be legally revised, they must first obtain authorisation from the country’s federal court.

If they were to be granted authorisation, the court would decide whether the case was handled within the confines of the law, council spokesman Stéphane Malépart told Beeld yesterday.

If the court should find that the case was not handled within the confines of the law, it would be referred to the refugee protection department of the council.

A new council member would then have to revisit the case, he said.

Huntley did not respond to e-mails and Facebook questions yesterday. His lawyer Russell Kaplan was also unreachable.

Earlier Huntley did, however, mention on Facebook that people should read the report about his refugee status in the Ottawa Sun — a Canadian newspaper.

Yesterday on his page he posted: “Look, I’m famous now. lol” — which means “laughing out loud”.

A certain Belinda Burger Morris wrote on Huntley’s Facebook wall: “Very proud of you for telling the other side of the story. Hopefully it will open people’s eyes.”

Huntley belongs to Facebook groups including “Player 23’s behind our Boks”, “South African braai network” and “Canadian South Africans”.

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