Quebec family to be deported Sunday
Posted: Apr 21, 2012 11:34 AM ET
Last Updated: Apr 22, 2012 2:05 AM ET
A family from Guinea that fears its daughters will be forced into marriages and possibly subjected to genital mutilation is to be deported Sunday after losing a last-minute court challenge.
The Federal Court held an emergency hearing by telephone Saturday to consider an application by Kankou Keita and her five children to stop their deportation back to their home country.
After a judge turned down their last-ditch appeal, Immigration Canada ordered Keita and her two youngest children, aged nine and 12, to leave Canada on Sunday. Her three other kids, aged 17, 18 and 20, must leave by Tuesday.
It is unclear whether the government will be successful in deporting the family, because Keita's children don't have all the required travel documents. It will be up to the airline to decide whether to let them board.
Quebec social worker Anne-Marie Bellemare, who has been working with the family, said they understood that the hearing was their last option.
"If ever at the end it's a 'no,' then the mother will go — but peacefully because she'll know that she was listened to," Bellemare said.
Immigration Canada has tried three times before to deport Keita and her children. The first time, in March, Keita didn't report to Dorval airport in Montreal because she was sick in hospital. The second and third attempts, on April 8 and on Thursday night, failed because of problems with the family's travel documents.
Keita and her children arrived in Canada in 2007 as refugee claimants. She has said she is terrified to return to Guinea because her daughters will likely be forced into arranged marriages and could suffer genital mutilation.
According to the World Health Organization’s 2011 progress report on female genital mutilation, about 40 per cent of girls between the ages of 15 and 19 are subjected to the practice in Guinea. It’s the only African country detailed in the report that showed a higher instance in the younger population compared to older women, indicating that the practice is not on the decline.
Keita's application for refugee status was denied, and the family later got a lawyer to prepare an application to stay on humanitarian grounds. But because of a mistake by the lawyer, Immigration Canada never received that application, Keita said.
Immigration officials said earlier this month that they aren’t able to comment on specific cases, but that there's generally little leeway once a deportation order is issued.
The family's plight has prompted a number of public demonstrations pleading for immigration officials to stay their deportation long enough to give them time to reapply to remain in Canada.
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