Statement: Refugee Rights Awareness Month 2019



Celebrate April 2019, Refugee Rights Awareness Month

April 3, 2019 / Toronto – The Toronto Planning Committee for Refugee Rights Month 2019 is proud to commemorate the important anniversary of the April 4, 1985 Supreme Court decision recognizing that refugees have fundamental rights.

On that day, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that refugee claimants are entitled to an oral hearing, in accordance with the principles of fundamental justice and international law. Known as the 'Singh decision', the case was brought to the court by Harbhajan Singh, Sadhu Singh Thandi, Paramjit Singh Mann, Kewal Singh, Charanjit Singh Gill, Indrani and Satnam Singh.

The commemoration this year is relevant and necessary more than ever as we recognize and celebrate the incredible strength and courage of refugees and refugee claimants, in solidarity with thousands of people and groups across Canada who are also marking this anniversary.

We respect the exceptional resilience and determination refugee claimants have shown and continue to show, even in the face of anti-refugee attacks, lack of compassion and utter disrespect for their rights. In the spirit of the “Singh Decision” we assert that those who flee persecution to seek protection in Canada, regardless of their mode of entry, have the legal right to an oral hearing.

We are outraged by the growing push from certain politicians to ‘close the border’ to refugees – people who are among the most vulnerable, and most in need of compassion and consideration. We urge the government to cancel the Safe Third Country Agreement between Canada and the United States, rather than search for new ways to bar entry to those seeking refuge in Canada. Under the Safe Third Country Agreement, in effect since December 2004, Canada and the US each declare the other country safe for refugees and close the door on most refugee claimants at the US-Canada border. Cancelling the agreement will make an already difficult and dangerous journey safer, and leave refugee claimants less vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous individuals.

We will not give in to attempts to cause fear and discord amongst us by demonizing and blaming refugee claimants. As Canadians we will stand firm against these attempts to divide us. We will continue to respect the human rights of refugees. We celebrate refugees and the enormous contributions they make to our society. We invite you all to join us in commemorating April 2019 as Refugee Rights Awareness Month.

Refugee Rights Awareness Month 2019 events are posted online at

Tel: 416-322-4950 ext. 239


Toronto Refugee Rights Month Planning Committee:

Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture | Canadian Friends Service Committee | Centre for Refugee Studies, York University | COSTI | CultureLink | FCJ Refugee Centre | Matthew House | OCASI – Ontario Council of Agencies Serving Immigrants | Romero House | Ryerson University Lifeline Syria Challenge | Salvadorean Canadian Association | Sojourn House | Syria Response and Refugee Initiative, York University | TNO - The Neighbourhood Organization | Turtle House Art/Play Centre