RCMP: a questionnaire considered discriminatory towards the muslim refugees raises outcry

Photo: Charles Krupa, The canadian Press
In Saint-Bernard-de-Lacolle, last August, an RCMP officer informed the migrants that cross the border outside border crossings was illegal.

“Disturbing “, ” shocking “, ” discriminatory “. A questionnaire that has passed the royal Canadian mounted police to the asylum-seekers intercepted at the border has sparked an avalanche of criticism because it seems to target muslims. Having had himself ” concern “,the public Safety minister, Ralph Goodale, was considered “inappropriate,” this tool, which was eventually suspended on Wednesday.


“How do you feel compared to women who do not wear the hijab […] ? “” What is your opinion about the Group islamic State, the taliban, etc ? “” Do you practice your religion ? If yes, how often ? “These are a few of the 40 questions in the interview guide used by the RCMP officers in their interventions this summer in the vicinity of Lacolle in Quebec, obtained by the Toronto Star.


“These are questions that are not relevant. I can not be agree with someone on the religious level, but that doesn’t mean that the person is a threat to security, ” said Mitchell Goldberg, president of the canadian Association of attorneys and lawyers in refugee law (ACAADR). “It seems to me to be a questionnaire on values, the kind of questions asked by the candidates for the leadership conservative. “


None of the questions are not referring to a religion other than islam, the “filtering” is “extremely troubling,” responded the New democratic Party by way of a press release. “The number of times someone prays should have no impact on his status as a refugee. This does not reflect who we are, ” said Jenny Kwan, spokesman for immigration and refugees.

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This is an exercise ” biased and discriminatory “, according to the director of the Centre for research-action on race relations (CRARR) Fo Niemi. “That is what one is looking for with this kind of questions ? What message it is giving ? It is necessary that the minister examines it closely. “


Evidence of discrimination


For many advocates of human rights, this questionnaire is the evidence of an intuition of the environment : the systemic discrimination exists within the forces of the order. “We already knew that there was racial profiling at the border,” says Emilie Nicolas, president of inclusive Quebec. “Often, it tells us about the experience of the people who live the racial profiling, but we don’t document tangible that says “Here is the official policy of profiling”, but what is interesting with this questionnaire, is that there is no smoke without fire. And this questionnaire is the fire. “


Co-chair of the Association of muslims and Arabs for secularism in Québec (AMAL-Québec), Haroun Bouazzi is not surprised by the practice of the RCMP. “There is bias evident in the devices of security that canadians have toward the muslims, he noted. This is a clear example of the racism of the institutions where one associates to a religion, a culture that would, by definition, dangerous. “


For him, this is a violation of the rights of refugees, as enshrined in the law and international conventions. “The home of a refugee does not depend on what he thinks, but his risk of being tortured or killed in his country of origin. It is really do not know what it is like to be a refugee than to ask these questions. “

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Even if he finds it “shocking” to Me that Goldberg does not want to speculate on the systemic nature of the discrimination, but he wants the data to be destroyed so that there is no prejudice to the claimants.


Questionnaire suspended


The questionnaire is no longer used, but when and for how long it has been ? The Duty has not been able to obtain accurate responses from the part of the RCMP. It has not been possible to find out if this questionnaire has been subjected systematically to any person intercepted, or only the one with islam as a religion. “All questions are not asked. This is only a guide “, has, nevertheless, stated by e-mail Annie Delisle, media relations for the RCMP.


The questionnaire would have been used for asylum seekers who have arrived by the path Roxham in the vicinity of Lacolle. This year, they have been around 12 000 to arrive in Quebec in this way, fleeing from the hostility of the government Trump. Ms. Delisle recalled that cross the border through a place other than the border crossing is a crime and that, in such a situation, the RCMP must perform a preliminary risk assessment to verify the links of a person with an illegal activity or organized crime.


For its part, the New democratic Party intends to spur the liberal government for answers. “One of two things : the minister was aware of this practice and did nothing, or he has no control over the practices that are used,” said Matthew Dubé, the NDP critic for public security and civil protection.

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Several suggested that this issue be brought before the committee in the House of commons, which is currently conducting hearings on ” the forms of racism and religious discrimination systemic. “These hearings, which ended on the 10th of November, held in the wake of the motion 103, driven by the liberal mp Iqra Khalid, which called in particular to condemn islamophobia.

Excerpts from the questionnaire

24. What is your opinion on the terrorist attacks ?

31. Canada is a very liberal country that believes in the freedom of religious practice and equality between men and women. What is your opinion on the subject ? How would you feel if your boss was a woman ? How do you feel compared to women who do not wear the hijab (covers the head), the dupatta covering the head and shoulders), the chador (covers the head and the body), the niqab (covers the head, the figure and the body), the burka (covers the whole body, including the eyes) ?

40. Do you have affiliations with extremist groups ?