United and Strong Inc. (U&S) expresses concern over the recent implementation of VISA requirements for nationals of Saint Lucia by the Canadian Immigration Department. U&S has been advocating for the rights and freedoms of the lesbian, gays, bisexual and transgendered individuals (LGBT) at the national, regional and international level, utilising existing mechanisms. We are therefore particularly concerned about the impact for the real cases involving the LGBT persons of Saint Lucia in Canada.
U&S has been monitoring and researching claims cases since 2010. To some extent we understand this new requirement as a means of control to reduce the number of false refugee claims. However we are anxious to learn how the system will now work for persons who need assistance and protection.
In 2011 United and Strong Inc. met with a number of Canadian organisations with settlement programmes to learn more about their support services and how their system works. We also had the opportunity to meet with immigration lawyers in Canada to advise us on current situations and the process of law.
We have noted the influx of the fraudulent claims by heterosexuals or “straight persons”; of non-nationals using Saint Lucians’ documentation under the sexual orientation violation banner; as well as the increase of claims by persons under gender-based-violence and poverty. It is hard to accept the findings that learned individuals, lawyers and organisations here in Saint Lucia and Canada are encouraging and supporting these fraudulent behaviours.
Znited and Strong has supported a number of legitimate cases and has denied many cases. For the last year we have been in contact with the Canadian Immigration Refugee Board (IRB) directly on the cases that our organisation has actually supported. Unfortunately, United and Strong has not been made aware of all the cases that the organisation has reportedly supported.
It is rather unfortunate that Visa requirements were necessary to be imposed in order to control this fraudulent behaviour. However U&S appreciates the circumstances and will continue to seek every opportunity to work closely with Saint Lucia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry and Canadian Immigration to confirm the validity of cases and protect our nation’s
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P.O Box 772, Castries, St Lucia, West Indies.
For the advancement of human rights for the LGBT community in Saint Lucia