Although more than thirty thousand refugee claims are decided in Canada every year, the personal stories behind them are never heard by the Canadian public. Peter Showler exposes the dilemmas and choices faced by participants in the refugee determination process in this collection of thirteen vignettes that focus on the roles played by the participants - legal counsel, federal court judges, interpreters, hearing officers, and, of course, claimants and board members. Showler uses satire to expose the prejudices, myopia, ignorance, provincialism, and lack of sensitivity that mark the decisions of officials. Refugee Sandwich attacks the patronage-based system of appointment and re-appointment and its sometimes tragic consequences, revealing the wide gulf between legal ideal and legal fact. Against a historical analysis of human rights abuses from a dozen countries, the author offers a sympathetic rendering of the predicament of the refugee claimant as well as a critical look at some of the more common devices and abusive strategies employed by fraudulent claimants.
Peter Showler is adjunct professor, law, University of Ottawa, consultant, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, and associate, Human Rights Research and Education Centre, University of Ottawa.