Canadian Federal Court overturns denial of permanent residence to former Iraqi government official

Canadian Federal Court overturns denial of permanent residence to former Iraqi government official

It raises a question about how officials should determine whether someone is too high up in a regime engaged in human rights abuses to be admitted to Canada

Former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein in 1998, which is during the time period that Zaghlol Kassab worked in the country’s civil service.INA/AFP/Getty Images

OTTAWA  The Federal Court has overturned a Canadian visa officer’s decision to refuse permanent residence to a former Iraqi government official under Saddam Hussein’s regime, in a case that could have larger implications for how Canada decides whether to accept refugees with ties to dictatorships.

Judge Michael Manson found the visa officer ignored evidence suggesting Zaghlol Kassab had little real power within the regime, and ordered that his application for permanent residence be reassessed by a new officer.

But the judge also raised a broader question about how Canadian officials should determine whether someone is too high up in a regime engaged in human rights abuses to be admitted to Canada as a refugee, which must now be answered by the Federal Court of Appeal.

Sergio Karas, an immigration lawyer and analyst not involved with the case, said he thinks the issue could end up before the Supreme Court of Canada. He said there’s currently not enough guidance for visa officers tasked with deciding which government positions are too senior to be admissible to Canada.

“I would like to see the court provide the specific elements and specific factors that you have to look at to make that determination,” he said. “The officers need guidance, so… people can hold their feet to the fire.”

Canadian Federal Court overturns denial of permanent residence to former Iraqi government official

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The Honourable Michael D. Manson

The Honourable Michael D. Manson

Credit: Greg Teckles

Born in Vancouver, British Columbia. Educated at McGill University (BSc. 1976; Dip.Ed. 1978) and University of British Columbia (L.L.B. 1982). Called to the Bars of Ontario (1984) and British Columbia (1995); Associate and Partner at Smart & Biggar (1984-2012); Fellow of the Intellectual Property Institute of Canada and of the Litigation Counsel of America. Adjunct Professor of the University of Victoria (1996-2012). Registered Trade-mark Agent (1984) and Patent Agent (1989). Author and speaker, Canadian Patent, Trade-mark and Copyright Law and Federal Court Practice. Selected Vancouver Intellectual Property Lawyer of the Year by Best Lawyers, Pre eminent IP Litigation Lawyer in British Columbia by Bench mark Canada, and Canadian Outstanding IP Practioner by Managing Intellectual Property all in 2012. Appointed Judge of the Federal Court, October 5, 2012. Address: Federal Court, Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0H9.

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CIReport

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