Minister Mendicino launches a dedicated refugee stream for human rights defenders

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July 16, 2021—Ottawa—The work of human rights defenders is essential to promote and protect the human rights of people around the world. Too often, they put their own lives at risk to denounce injustices and hold the powerful to account.

Our country has a long and proud tradition of providing protection to those at risk. As a global leader, Canada welcomed close to a third of all resettled refugees from around the world in 2020.

That is why the Honourable Marco E. L. Mendicino, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced the launch of a dedicated refugee stream to provide a safe haven for human rights defenders at risk who are fleeing persecution in their home country.

Canada will become one of the first countries to offer a dedicated, permanent pathway for human rights defenders, and will resettle up to 250 human rights defenders per year, including their family members, through the Government-Assisted Refugees Program.

The Government of Canada will work with Front Line Defenders and ProtectDefenders.eu, alongside other Canadian and international partners, including the United Nations Refugee Agency, to identify human rights defenders who face security risks and are in need of resettlement, and to find solutions for human rights defenders in need of protection. This will include a particular focus on people at heightened risk, such as women, journalists and LGBTQ2 human rights defenders.

International experts and advocates have called for dedicated protection measures for human rights defenders. With today’s announcement, Canada is helping to provide more options to human rights defenders in need of protection so that they have a pathway to permanent residence when they cannot return home.

View the full announcement on Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada’s official website.

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