Minister of Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism announced today the initial list of countries whose citizens will have their asylum claims expedited for processing because they do not normally produce refugees.

“Designating countries is an important step towards a faster and fairer asylum system,” said Citizenship, Immigration and Multiculturalism Minister Jason Kenney. “It is remarkable that the European Union – with its democratic tradition of freedom, respect for human rights, and an independent judiciary – has been the top source region for asylum claims made in Canada. What’s more, virtually all EU claimants either withdraw or abandon their own claims or are rejected by the independent Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.”

In 2011, of the total number of asylum claims filed by European Union (EU) nationals around the world, over 80% of were filed in Canada, even though EU nationals have mobility rights within the 27 EU member states. The majority of EU claimants do not appear for their Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB) hearing as they withdraw or abandon their own claims. Of all EU claims referred to the IRB, an independent tribunal, 91% were rejected last year.

As part of the improvements to Canada’s asylum system, the Protecting Canada’s Immigration System Act included the authority to designate countries of origin (DCOs) – countries that respect human rights, offer state protection, and based on the historical data from the IRB, do not normally produce refugees.

The initial list of designations covers 27 countries, 25 of which are in the European Union:

• Austria
• Belgium
• Croatia
• Cyprus
• Czech Republic
• Denmark
• Estonia
• Finland
• France
• Germany
• Greece
• Hungary
• Ireland
• Italy
• Latvia
• Lithuania
• Luxembourg
• Malta
• Netherlands
• Poland
• Portugal
• Slovak Republic
• Slovenia
• Spain
• Sweden
• United Kingdom
• United States of America

Additional countries will be designated in the months following the implementation of the new system, which comes into force tomorrow, December 15, 2012.
All eligible asylum claimants from a DCO will continue to receive a full and fair oral hearing on the individual merits of their claim in front of the independent, quasi-judicial IRB. The new system does not change in any respect the nature of these first instance hearings, which are conducted in a manner consistent with principles of due process and natural justice, and meet the requirements of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.