By TOM GODFREY
A White South African man who claimed he was persecuted by Blacks at home has lost a bid to regain his refugee status in Canada, which was taken away on appeal by immigration officials.
Brandon Carl Huntley, who is from Cape Town, was granted status by an Immigration and Refugee Board in 2009 after claiming he was persecuted due to his race and political opinion.
Huntley alleged he was assaulted at least six times by Black South Africans, forced to wait in lengthy lines and refused jobs due to that country’s “affirmative action” policies.
He arrived in Canada on a work permit in 2004 and did not file a claim until 2008, when his visa expired and he could no longer remain in the country.
His claim was rescinded on appeal to the Federal Court of Canada, which reversed the decision of the IRB.
Huntley then filed a motion to the court seeking a judicial review. The Federal Court last week refused to grant a review and Huntley now faces deportation to Johannesburg.
“The applicant fears reprisals for making a refugee claim against South Africa and publicizing it internationally,” Judge Catherine Kane said in her June 17 decision. “He believes he would be flagged at the airport upon arrival.”
Huntley’s short-lived refugee status in Canada generated media coverage worldwide, including in South Africa, where he now fears returning by claiming the notoriety has placed his life in danger.
He claimed he went to the media following his positive decision because he “felt so strongly that millions of people did not know what was going on in South Africa regarding the plight of White South Africans”.
The South African government in response called the decision “racist” and said it affected the relationship between Canada and Pretoria, court was told.
The Federal Court last week ruled that the 2009 refugee decision was “unreasonable” due to a lack of objective evidence of racism and persecution of White South Africans.
It ruled that Huntley could have made his refugee claim earlier, rather than waiting until his visa had expired. He had also returned home for a visit when he was supposed to be fleeing persecution.
“The applicant raised serious allegations about the risks to White people in South Africa and portrayed this judicial review as critical to the future of other potential refugees,” the decision said.
Court was told that many human rights issues in South Africa were raised as concerns in UN reports but there is nothing reported to identify discrimination against the White population as a concern.
“The applicant had not established the existence of a reasonable chance or serious possibility of persecution should he return to South Africa,” Kane wrote.
She said Huntley is required to seek protection at home before doing so in another country.
He made no attempt to access state protection before he left South Africa, despite the fact he claims to be a victim of six assaults that were racially motivated, the judge noted.
Court was told that Huntley indicated he would be afraid in South Africa to file a report to a White police officer “because they work with Black officers”.
Travel arrangements will be made to remove Huntley from Canada if he does not leave voluntarily by a certain date, officials said. He may also seek leave to appeal this decision.