In 2008, my family was wrongfully deported to Libya by the Canadian Government. There was ample proof that because of my brother's political affiliations we could be subject to torture, but Immigration Canada did not listen. Sure enough, when our deportation flight landed in Libya the passports of my wife and 4 children were seized and I was thrown in prison and tortured for months.
For four years we applied to come home to Canada and were denied again and again despite the fact that I had been tortured. Our friends didn't give up and continued campaigning for our return, even the UN High Commissioner for Refugees intervened on our behalf. Earlier this year we were overjoyed to learn that the Canadian Government would allow us to come back and would grant us permanent residence. But it's 10 months later and we're still waiting to return.
This week we were couldn't believe it to hear that the Immigration Canada is now demanding that we pay them back for the cost of the flights in 2008 to Libya, the flights that deported us and sent me to my torturers.
After all they've put us through, they are demanding that we re-pay them $6800.00, and if we don’t we cannot return.
Minister of Immigration Chris Alexander has the authority to waive the $6800.00 fee if it is believed the fee would cause an injustice, and I believe this is a clear injustice.
It took us four years of campaigning from our family and friends, including a 15,700 signature petition on Change.org to simply get the Canadian Government to allow us to return after our deportation.
Please support us by signing our new petition and ask Immigration Minister Chris Alexander to waive the $6800.00 fee so that we can finally come home and start re-building our lives.
More on our story:
We came to Canada in 2000 as refugees escaping Libya. My brother was involved with anti-Gaddafi rebels and I had been beaten and interrogated by police repeatedly about his whereabouts. My wife and fled with their two small children to the safety of Canada to start a new life. Canada is all my children know. Adam and Omar, my two youngest sons, were born in Canada during the 8 years before our deportation.
In 2008, our refugee claim was denied when the Canadian immigration officer decided that I was not in danger, despite the fact that there was a clear risk of my being tortured. We were deported back into the hands of the Libyan Security Service, who promptly detained and tortured me. We were finally able to escape after many struggles and ended up in Malta where we claimed asylum and ended up living in a shipping container in a refugee camp.
It took years for the Canadian Government to give us permission to come back. Our application was denied many times despite the fact that I had been tortured. It was so bad that the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees formally asked Canada to accept us back, yet we were denied again. Late last year, a Federal Court Judge ruled that our case was handled in a prejudicial and biased manner. That ruling and the public pressure my friends helped generate finally led to Immigration Canada saying we could return and would be granted permanent residency.
Now we have learned that despite everything the family has been through (because of the mistakes of Immigration Canada), that they are being charged $6800.00 for their 2008 deportation flight - the flight that delivered Adel into the hands of his torturers.
This is a serious injustice. Minister Alexander, please waive the $6800.00 fee and allow the Benhmuda family to return immediately so that they can begin rebuilding their lives and making up for all the time stolen from them.