Event: Challenging security inadmissibility in Canada’s immigration system


In this event, our three resource persons discussed how Canada labels non-citizens as security threats based on broad and vague grounds, the severe impacts that this has on individuals, and ways we can challenge the provisions and fix the system through the courts and through public advocacy.

Take action to stop the deportation of Abdelrahman El Mady!

As mentioned during the webinar, the Canadian Council for Refugees (CCR) will be moving forward with efforts to raise awareness about these situations of injustice, and to press for systemic change. If you would like to be part of ongoing discussions on how to advance advocacy, or know of affected people whose profiles could be shared, or just have some suggestions to share, please email my colleague Olivia at okostin-cohen@ccrweb.ca. Thanks!

Resource persons

Sharry Aiken, Associate Professor at Queen’s Law and former CCR President, will present an overview of the ongoing, and long-standing, problems with Canada’s security inadmissibility system.

Warda Shazadi Meighen, refugee, immigration and human rights lawyer, and partner at Landings Law, will present the legal challenge in the case of Abdiaziiz Mohamed Ali. Warda is representing the Canadian Council for Refugees and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers, public interest parties in the case. Mr. Ali arrived in Canada in 2015 when he was barely 19 years old, as a refugee claimant. As an ethnic Somali living in the Ogaden region of Ethiopia, he faced persecution by Ethiopian authorities for his support of Ogaden opposition movements, but has been found inadmissible by Canada based on a scant association with an organization deemed to have committed terrorist acts.

Washim Ahmed, refugee and immigration lawyer and co-founder of OWS Law, will present the case of Abdelrahman El Mady, an Egyptian national who arrived in Canada as a refugee claimant in 2017. Mr. El Mady fled persecution by Egypt’s military government for his participation in protests against the former Mubarak dictatorship and his membership in the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP). The FJP won the first democratic elections in Egypt’s history in 2011, before being deposed in a military coup by the current government.

More details

Among those most affected by security inadmissibility are refugee claimants who have faced persecution for being involved in opposition political movements. Branded as enemies of the state at home, upon arrival in Canada they are labelled security risks and barred from making a refugee claim. They then face the possibility of being deported to a dangerous situation.

Under Canadian immigration law, a person may be found inadmissible to Canada (in other words, barred from travelling to, or remaining in Canada) if they are deemed “members” of an organization considered to have engaged in acts of terrorism or subversion. This broad net catches individuals who have never participated in terrorism or subversion, including some involved with opposition movements against authoritarian regimes. This broad ground of inadmissibility is justified by the existence of a so-called safety valve, by which Canada’s Minister of Public Safety may exempt a person if their presence in Canada does not pose a threat to our national security (known as ministerial relief). In practice, this safety valve does not work: requests for ministerial relief languish for years on the Minister of Public Safety’s desk, leaving these individuals in legal limbo, without status and under the constant threat of being deported to situations where they may face threats to their safety and even their lives.

Co-presented by the Canadian Council for Refugees, the International Civil Liberties Monitoring Group and the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers


This event was hosted on May 11, 2021, on unceded and unsurrendered Algonquin territory. This land must be returned to the jurisdiction and care of the Algonquin Nation.

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