Roma Political Activist Denied Refugee Status in Canada

Gyula Kanto, a Roma political activist, and his wife and son have been denied refugee status in Canada. Kanto is known as a Roma civil rights leader in Hungary, and has run for office on that platform. The family greatly fears for their safety in their homeland. In their application for refugee protection, they stated accounts of being verbally and physically abused, sometimes while police officers watched. A summary of the court documents, as reported in the Ottawa Citizen explains:

“In 2006, Gyula Kanto Sr. participated in the Roma elections for a position in the minority government,” according to a summary of background facts in court documents. “This participation further publicized his ethnicity and role as a Roma activist. In the applicants’ apartment complex, their upstairs neighbour was a known Guardist (a street thug who dresses in traditional Hungarian Nazi colours and spreads fear). The neighbour would shout racial slurs at them and send threatening letters. He even broke their windows. The applicants complained to the police but they refused to intervene.

Then, on July 8, 2009, Kanto’s son said, he was confronted by three Guardists and when he said he’d call the police, one of his tormentors pulled out a police badge said, ‘Complain all you want, but we will not investigate.’ Someone then smashed a beer bottle in his face and he required stitches.

‘On August 26, 2009, Gyula Kanto Jr. was surrounded and verbally abused by a group of police officers at a bank machine. They spoke with approval about a recent violent attack on Romanies by a group of skinheads. The applicant overheard one of the police officers say: ‘At least there is one less Roma in the country.’”

The Federal Court of Canada admitted that the Immigration and Refugee board member who made the initial ruling that “[Kanto and his family] have no legitimate fear of persecution in their homeland,” was incorrect in his overall assessment. However, the Federal Court has still sided with the initial ruling.


Source: Ottawa Citizen