Order-in-Council on Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities: 2020 Annual Report

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Introduction

In accordance with subsection 7(1) of the Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities Act (ACMFEA), this report is presented to the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship, and describes the activities that Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC) has undertaken to ensure compliance with the Order-in-Council on Directions for Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment by Foreign Entities issued to the Department on September 4, 2019.

The following report covers the reporting period between January 1, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

Background

On September 4, 2019, IRCC was issued an Order-in-Council on its information sharing practices pursuant to Section 3(1) of the ACMFEA. The Order-in-Council directs that:

  1. No disclosure of information be made to a foreign entity, which would result in a substantial risk of mistreatment of an individual, unless it is determined that the risk can be fully mitigated.
  2. No request for information is made to a foreign entity, which would result in a substantial risk of mistreatment of an individual, unless it is determined that the risk can be fully mitigated.
  3. No information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual by a foreign entity be used in any way that: creates a substantial risk of further mistreatment; as evidence in any judicial, administrative or other proceeding; or, in any way that deprives someone of their rights or freedoms.

In 2019, IRCC implemented new policies and procedures for officers contemplating information exchanges with foreign entities, including:

Information Sharing Practices at IRCC

IRCC undertakes information exchanges with international partners to aid in the administration of legislation for which the Minister is responsible (the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act, the Citizenship Act, and the Canadian Passport Order) and to fulfill its mandate to facilitate the travel and integration of people to Canada, while maintaining the safety and security of Canadians.

International information sharing is a valuable tool that helps IRCC to, inter alia:

International Information Sharing Arrangements

IRCC continues to utilize its information sharing arrangements with trusted international partners – Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It is in accordance with these information sharing arrangements that the vast majority of IRCC’s information sharing takes place. These administrative arrangements are available to the public and expressly preclude the sharing of information that may place an individual or their family at risk of torture or persecution. Information is only shared with partner countries in a manner that respects privacy laws, civil liberties and human rights.

Other International Information Sharing

In certain circumstances, IRCC may also exchange information with a foreign partner with whom it does not have an agreement or arrangement, as authorized by Section 8 of the Privacy Act. Depending on the circumstances, exchanges of this nature are only conducted at the discretion of an officer or other delegated official after considering the relevant authorities and the intended use of the information, including the likelihood of it leading to the mistreatment of an individual. Officers have been instructed to ensure that all exchanges are recorded for tracking purposes.

Implementing Avoiding Complicity in Mistreatment

As this is now the second year of being subject to the Order-in-Council, IRCC has sought to monitor, maintain and support the existing processes and procedures that were initially established in response to the receipt of the Order-in-Council, in 2019.

Legal Requirements of the ACMFEA

Updating Policies and Procedures

As part of its ongoing monitoring, IRCC implemented the following updates to existing procedures within the reporting period:

Inter-Agency Cooperation

Activity Report

Within the reporting period, there were three cases where officers requested a further risk assessment pursuant to IRCC’s new policies and procedures.

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