Saturday, January 22, 2011


Canada to study end of Czech visa restrictions

By Peter O'Neil. Europe Correspondent,
Postmedia News January 21, 2011
The Canadian government is sending experts to Prague later this month to assess whether Canada can safely lift its visa restrictions on the Czech Republic without opening the door to a new wave of Roma refugee claimants.

"The experts are going to research how the Czech authorities protect minorities and assist their integration," the Czech Press Agency reported Friday.

Alykhan Velshi, spokesman for Immigration Minister Jason Kenney, confirmed that the experts will participate in a five-day "information gathering visit" starting Jan. 31.

Visa restrictions were imposed in 2009 in a bid to shut down a wave of Roma arriving in Canada, claiming persecution in the Czech Republic. The number of claimants soared almost immediately after visa requirements were removed in late 2007.

The large number of migrants caused a strain on social services in the Hamilton, Ont., area, where many tried to settle, according to one media report.

The Czech government was infuriated by the 2009 decision and the foreign relations committee of the Czech parliament's lower house has retaliated by blocking a Canada-European Union agreement on air transportation, according to the Czech media report.

Wouldn't it be great if half the money spent on studies and fact finding missions actually went to do something significant for Romani and other oppressed people ?

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