Guyanese man succeeds in re-opening a pre-removal risk assessment application

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By Sukhram  Ramkissoon

Sukhram Ramkissoon

According to the Federal Court a person whom I will refer to as Ralph sought judicial review of the decision of a Senior Immigration Officer refusing his request for a reconsideration of the refusal of his Pre-Removal Risk Assessment (PRRA).

The PRRA is an opportunity for people who are facing removal from Canada to seek protection by describing, in writing, the risks they believe they would face if removed. Persons whose PRRA applications are approved may stay in Canada

Ralph is a citizen of Guyana and he applied for a PRRA in January 2020 while incarcerated at Toronto East Detention Centre. He retained the services of a lawyer to file his PRRA submissions. His application was denied in a decision communicated to him in July 2021.

On September 30, 2021, with the assistance of Counsel, he applied for reconsideration of the negative decision. In his application, Ralph provided supplementary material in response to the comments made by the officer in denying the PRRA application.

The reconsideration request was denied as described in the following statement:

Your PRRA application was considered and has been refused. You were provided with the decision in person on July 12, 2021, and your application was concluded. After a review of your reconsideration request, I have exercised my jurisdiction not to reconsider your application.

 You have submitted additional evidence related to your claim of risk assessed in the original decision. I note that between the date of initiation of your application and the date of the decision, you had over eighteen months to provide all relevant documentation including these [sic] additional evidence.

 I have considered your explanation and personal circumstances during this time. I note that you had opportunities, over the course of more than a year, to gather documents, contact your counsel and seek alternate counsel if necessary.

 I am not satisfied that your explanation demonstrates an exceptional case where a reconsideration is warranted. Furthermore, you have submitted evidence based on a new fact that would be more appropriately considered in the context of a subsequent PRRA. Therefore, the initial decision to refuse your PRRA application remains unchanged.

The judge in granting his application stated that according to case law, an officer has discretion in deciding to reopen a claim. That discretion must be exercised reasonably and that such decision is subject to review on the standard of reasonableness, following the decision of another case law in considering reasonableness, the Court is to ask if the decision under review “bears the hallmarks of reasonableness — justification, transparency and intelligibility — and whether it is justified in relation to the relevant factual and legal constraints that bear on the decision.”

The judge ruled and stated that “in my opinion, the decision here does not meet the standard. Contrary to the teaching of the law, and the reasons for the decision do not show that the officer considered the personal “stakes” of Ralph and his personal circumstances include a mild intellectual disability”.

The judge allowed the application for judicial review and set aside the negative decision and ordered that the matter be remitted to another officer for redetermination.

In my view, this case establishes the jurisdiction of an officer to review a reconsideration request, as stipulated by case law as cited by the judge.

Good luck, Ralph, in this new opportunity you have been given.

SUKHRAM  RAMKISSOON is a member of CICC and specializes in immigration matters at 3089 Bathurst Street, Suite 219A, Toronto. Ontario Phone 416 789 5756.