South African 'settler' appeals asylum withdrawal

2010-12-28 00:00

THE Canadian legal team of the white South African who was granted and then lost asylum status in Canada are preparing to appeal the withdrawal of his right to remain in that country.

Brandon Huntley (32) caused a stir in Canada and South Africa in 2009 when he claimed his fear of crime against whites made him a candidate for asylum, and a government board agreed.

Huntley, who grew up in Cape Town, claimed he had been attacked seven times by black robbers and called a “white dog” and a “settler”.

A panel of the Canadian immigration board found that his fear was justified and granted him asylum in August 2009.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney appealed to the country’s federal court for a review of the decision by William Davis of the immigration and refugee board.

Advocate Russell Kaplan, one of Huntley’s lawyers, alleged that Kenney would never have appealed the decision if not for “pressure, driven by allegations of racism” by the South African government.

On November 24 this year Judge James Russell ruled in the federal court that granting Huntley refugee status had been a mistake.

The judge added it was clear that Huntley came to Canada to look for work, not because he was fleeing persecution.

Kaplan said the ruling was a turning point for white South Africans who feel they are being targeted because of their skin colour.

“In his judgment, Russell said that just because Huntley’s circumstances could not be regarded under law as persecution, this didn’t mean other white South Africans could not qualify.”

He said an application for appeal was made to the federal court of appeal on December 22, to be heard by three judges.

He said it could be six months before the appeal is heard.

Kaplan said the appeal turns on three questions, of which he is prepared to discuss only one.

Huntley’s appeal goes to the question of whether the federal court had the jurisdiction to hear the government’s initial appeal.

Kaplan said the main argument is that the South African government painted the Canadian government as racist when Huntley was granted asylum.

“The question is whether a new judge would be afraid to be called a racist if he or she upheld Huntley’s second application.”

Huntley may remain in Canada while the legal process— the appeal and a possible second asylum application — is completed.

On December 4, Idasa (the Institute for Democracy in South Africa) published research finding that white people are less likely than blacks to be the victims of robbery.

A survey carried out over 12 months revealed that 21% of white people fear crime, while 35% of blacks do.

The study also found that fewer whites (11%) say they have regularly experienced theft from their homes.

The findings belie perceptions that whites suffer crime more than other groups, Idasa said.

“On the contrary, the findings show that whites do not suffer crime in greater proportion than other population groups. Fear of and experience of crime is, in reality, least among whites,” the Idasa report said.

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