Canada doubles resettlement spaces for human rights defenders

July 25, 2023—Ottawa—Human rights defenders (HRDs) are active in every part of the world and play an essential role in promoting and protecting human rights internationally. In many countries, HRDs are increasingly at risk of violence, often subject to threats and injustices, forced to flee their homes due to fear of attack and reprisal, and on occasion, unable to return to their home country. Individuals from vulnerable and marginalized groups are at particularly heightened risk due to their intersectional identities.

The Honourable Sean Fraser, Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, today announced the expansion of the global human rights defenders stream, doubling the number of resettlement spaces from 250 to 500 for HRDs and their family members. The initiative, propelled by the belief that no one should face persecution for championing justice, reflects Canada’s unwavering commitment to providing a sanctuary for those who risk their lives in the pursuit of fundamental freedoms. 

Human rights defenders help build the inclusive and democratic societies that contribute to a peaceful and prosperous international community. Canada has a proud and long-standing tradition of responding to the needs of vulnerable people. For the fourth year in a row, we were the top resettlement country in the world, welcoming over 47,500 refugees from over 80 countries in 2022. Canada was one of the first countries to offer a dedicated, permanent pathway for HRDs. The expansion of the global refugee stream for HRDs and partnership with civil society organizations fulfills a ministerial mandate commitment, and is a clear statement of Canada’s dedication to supporting and protecting HRDs at risk.

As part of Canada’s commitment to HRDs, we will also re-engage Canadian civil society organizations over the coming months on the development of a temporary protection pathway for HRDs in need. 

When we provide effective support to HRDs around the world, we enable them to carry out their work in a safe environment while protecting them from harm. Through the newly expanded global refugee stream for at-risk defenders, Canada will help HRDs defend the vital and fundamental human rights that we all deserve and give them more options to permanent residence when it is unsafe to return home.

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