- The Washington Times - Friday, September 4, 2009

TORONTO | Canadian government lawyers are reviewing a contentious decision by a Canadian immigration board panel to grant refugee status to a white man from South Africa who claimed persecution by black South Africans.

Federal citizenship and immigration department spokeswoman Danielle Norris said Thursday that department lawyers were studying the decision and could ask Canada’s Federal Court for a formal review.

South Africa has asked the Canadian government to appeal to the court. The ruling has angered many in South Africa, where race remains a highly sensitive issue.

A Canadian immigration board panel issued its ruling late last week in the case involving Brandon Huntley.

Mr. Huntley argued that whites are targeted by black criminals in South Africa and that the government does nothing to protect them. He claimed he was attacked seven times during attempted robberies and muggings.

Tribunal panel chairman William Davis ruled that Mr. Huntley would stand out like a “sore thumb” because of his color in any part of South Africa and that Mr. Huntley’s fears of persecution were justified based on the evidence he submitted.

The Immigration and Refugee Board has refused to comment on the case. Board spokesman Stephane Malepart has said he is barred by privacy provisions from commenting on any individual case.

The board is an independent tribunal that operates at arms’ length from the Canadian government.

Ms. Norris said the federal department is doing an internal review.

“Our department’s lawyers are currently reviewing the decision,” Ms. Norris said. “However, a judicial review by the Federal Court will not hear additional evidence, with respect to the facts, for example, conditions in South Africa.”

Anesh Maistry, head of the political section at the South African High Commission in Canada, said the board’s decision is wrong and belies the reality of South Africa.

Abraham Nkomo, South Africa’s High Commissioner to Canada, said the refugee board was taken for a ride in the matter and that it’s a crime issue, not a race issue.

“There is no persecution of the white community in South Africa. What crime does happen happens to targets of convenience,” Mr. Nkomo said in an interview with the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.

Mr. Nkomo met with Canadian officials and expressed surprise Mr. Huntley was granted refugee status.

Mr. Huntley came to Canada on a visa in 2004 to work as a carnival worker. He returned in 2005 on a one-year visa and stayed for a second year illegally. He went back to South Africa, then entered Canada a third time, and filed his refugee claim in 2008.

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