Test case profile

Constitutional challenge to the designated country of origin regime

In 2015, LAO funded the Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers’ (CARL) challenge to the law that says refugees from the designated country of origin (DCO) list aren’t allowed to appeal to the Refugee Appeal Division (RAD).

CARL argued that denying refugees from the DCO list a chance to appeal ignores the huge impact on refugees with mental health or trauma issues. Additionally, those seeking protection from gender-based persecution or on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity or ethnic minorities are also affected.

The Federal Court ruled in favour of CARL. Justice Keith M. Boswell struck down s.110(2) (d.1) of the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act because it violates equality rights under section 15 of the Charter.

LAO approved funding for this test case because the matter aligns with LAO’s priority to promote equal access to, and effective protection of, Charter rights.


“Refugee claims can be life and death decisions. Yet people from ‘designated countries of origin’ were denied access to the Refugee Appeal Division. The Federal Court decided that it violates section 15 of the charter to deny appeal rights to refugee claimants on the basis of their country of origin. The new government withdrew an appeal of the decision. As a result, hundreds of refugee claimants every year are now afforded full appeal rights.”

— Mitchell Goldberg, President, Canadian Association of Refugee Lawyers

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