Mohamed Cherfi - your Support is still needed!


Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Below is the Mohamed Cherfi Solidarity Committee’s press release from the
press conference held in Quebec City on March 15, 2005. The following
people took part in the press conference: Reverend Gérald Doré,
spokesperson for the Mohamed Cherfi sponsorship group; Louise Boivin,
Mohamed Cherfi’s partner; Smail Behlouli, spokesperson for the Action
Committee for Non-Status Algerians; Msgr. Pierre-André Fournier, Auxiliary
Bishop and representative of Msgr. Ouellet, Archbishop of Quebec City; and
Ann Bourget, municipal councillor and person in charge of immigration
matters for the executive committee of the City of Quebec.

Various reference documents are attached to this message.

Your support is still needed!

In conjunction with this update, we again solicit your support at this
crucial stage by asking you to endorse the position taken in the press
release. Please express your support as soon as possible to the
authorities concerned. Contact information is given below:

Joseph Volpe, federal Minister of Immigration (person in charge for
Quebec: Marc Ferdinand) Tel.: (613) 954-1064
Fax:(613) 952-5533

Lise Thériault, Québec Minister of Immigration (person in charge: Anna
Mancuso) Tel.: (514)873-9940
Fax: (514) 864-2899

Jean Charest, Premier of Quebec (person in charge: Stéphane Bertrand)
Tel.: (418) 643-5321
Fax: (418) 646-1854

Repatriate Cherfi, this is his country!

For immediate release


Quebec City, March 15, 2005 – The Canadian Consul in Buffalo issued, on
February 18, a notice refusing Mohamed Cherfi’s application for asylum,
and there is no appeal authority to contest that decision. The file is now
in the hands of the Quebec immigration department (the Ministère de
l'Immigration et des Communautés culturelles), which must determine
whether Mohamed Cherfi qualifies as a “person in a distressful situation”.
A representative of the department interviewed him in prison on March 4.
However, the way in which the interview was conducted is cause for grave

The Mohamed Cherfi sponsorship group, along with Mr. Cherfi’s partner,
Louise Boivin, and the Solidarity Committee, request that federal
Citizenship and Immigration Minister Joseph Volpe exercise his
discretionary powers to grant Mohamed Cherfi a temporary resident permit
in order to repatriate him to Canada, on humanitarian grounds, before it
is too late. They also request that Quebec Immigration Minister Lise
Thériault ensure that Mohamed Cherfi’s “person in a distressful situation”
application is processed fairly, impartially and in compliance with law.

Notice of refusal from the Canadian Consul

In his notice of refusal, the Canadian Consul in Buffalo, who processed
Mr. Cherfi’s file, affirmed the following: [TRANSLATION] “You seem to
believe that the Algerian authorities have targeted you because of your
activities in Canada, but there is no credible evidence to support that
conclusion. You have never been arrested, imprisoned or mistreated by the
Algerian police.” That opinion is not shared by human rights organizations
such as the International Federation of Human Rights Leagues and Amnesty
International. Michel Frenette, director of the French-speaking section of
Amnesty International Canada, stated the following: [TRANSLATION] “Mohamed
Cherfi, conscientious objector, political opponent and human rights
advocate, is vulnerable in Algeria’s current human rights context; forcing
him to return to his homeland would jeopardize his safety and physical
integrity.” (see attached letter)

In the Canadian Consul’s view, Mohamed Cherfi’s possible imprisonment in
Algeria is legitimate because of his refusal to do military service there
(it should be noted that the Algerian army is known for its human rights
violations, including torture) [TRANSLATION] “You may face a prison term
upon returning to Algeria because you avoided conscription into the
Algerian armed forces; you broke the law of your country and you must pay
the consequences like anyone else in the same situation.”

Interview by Quebec raises concerns

In accordance with procedure, Mohamed Cherfi’s application, sponsored by
five Quebec City residents, was processed by the federal government first,
then by Quebec. On March 4, a civil servant with the Quebec immigration
department conducted a selection interview with Mohamed, at the prison.
His task is to determine whether Mohamed can obtain a right of residence
as a “person in a distressful situation” under Quebec’s jurisdiction in
humanitarian immigration cases. We could not be more concerned about the
way in which the interview was conducted, for the following reasons:

- The criteria relating to Mohamed’s situation of distress were not
properly verified. - During the interview, the civil servant downplayed
the risks of returning to Algeria. - The civil servant put himself in a
position incompatible with his role as evaluator by assuming the role of
intermediary between the Algerian government and Mr. Cherfi, offering him
a form to apply for amnesty as a conscientious objector. - Although Mr.
Cherfi does not have a criminal record and penal matters are extraneous to
the examination of sponsorship applications, that aspect was raised in the
interview. - The civil servant also brought up the discord between former
federal immigration minister Denis Coderre and Mr. Cherfi during the
period in which the latter served as spokesperson for the Action Committee
for Non-Status Algerians. That has nothing to do with the examination of
the application.

Reverend Gérald Doré, spokesperson for the sponsorship group, and a number
of Quebec organizations, voiced their disagreement with the interview to
the Quebec Immigration Minister. We again emphasize that the application
must be processed impartially and in good faith, as required under the
Quebec Act respecting administrative justice. We ask that the examination
of the sponsorship application take into account all aspects of section
18(c) of the Regulation respecting the selection of foreign nationals (the
risks of a return, psychological distress and integration) put forward in
the application filed with the Quebec government.

Urgent intervention on humanitarian grounds required to repatriate Mohamed

Since the breaking of sanctuary and Mohamed Cherfi’s deportation to the
United States a year ago, some 250 organizations and public figures (see
list) have continued to call for Mohamed’s repatriation. From the prison
where he is being held, Mohamed has followed the rules and patiently
awaited the outcome of the long, arduous procedures undertaken, in the
hope of returning to Canada to live. This unbearable wait has gone on long
enough. As of March 8, 2005, a ruling on his motion for appeal in the
United States can be handed down anytime, resulting in his deportation to

We believe that, as in the case of other people who had to seek sanctuary,
a humanitarian solution should be found for Mohamed Cherfi.

- We ask Minister Volpe to exercise the discretionary powers conferred on
him by law to urgently grant Mohamed Cherfi a temporary resident permit so
that he can return to Canada.

- We ask Minister Thériault to ensure that the group sponsorship
application is processed fairly and in compliance with all aspects of
section 18(c) of the Regulation.

Mohamed Cherfi Solidarity Committee
Mohamed Cherfi sponsorship group
Louise Boivin, Mohamed Cherfi’s partner

Telephone: 418-262-0144

This message was send to you by

Comité de solidarité avec Mohamed Cherfi

Tel.: 418-262-0144