A white South African family is asking Canada for refugee protection saying they are targeted at home because of their skin
Each year, between 10 and 15 thousand people apply for refugee status in Canada. Few create the kind of hand-wringing as Charl and Naira Nel. The Nels -- who are white South Africans -- are seeking refugee protection in Canada because they say they will be targeted for violence in their home country.
Last year, their claim was turned down by Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board. But earlier this month, the Federal Court overturned that ruling and sent it back to the IRB for another look. Neither the Nels nor their lawyer was available to talk to us this morning. But this isn't the first time a white South African has sought refugee status in Canada.
• White South African family seeking asylum in Canada granted new refugee hearing -- The National Post
In 2008, Brandon Huntley made a bid for asylum. And one year later, Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board ruled Brandon Hartley did have a "well-founded fear of persecution on the grounds of his race" and the South Africa government was unwilling or unable "to protect white South Africans from persecution."
The IRB ruling sparked international outrage and threatened Canada's relationship with South Africa. Ottawa appealed the decision to the federal court, which sent it back to the IRB for a second look. The IRB reversed course and ruled Mr. Hartley was not a person in need of protection. At this point, Rocco Galati came to the conclusion that this wasn't really a fight about what Canadian refugee law says.
"South Africans are now persecuting a segment of white South Africans because you're almost embarrassed to say it, for fear that you get labelled a racist because of the ugly history of apartheid which everyone was against. But the reality is the reality. Poor whites are targeted because of race and the law of refugee status in Canada should be applied to them, no different from any other persecuted race in any other country without regard to the political correctness." Rocco Gilati, lawyer involved in the unsuccessful refugee claim by white South African Brandon Huntley.
The Nel case is puzzling to many in South Africa. Rachel Jewkes is the director of Gender and Health Research Unit of the South African Medical Research Council.
In 2010 Genocide Watch, an organization that monitors racial extermination around the world, upgraded the risk to whites in South Africa. Gregory Stantonis the founder and President of Genocide Watch, and is also a Research Professor in Genocide Studies and Prevention at George Mason University in Virginia.
Want to get in touch to share your thoughts on the program?
This segment was produced by The Current's Gord Westmacott, Sujata Berry and Sarah Grant.