On June 11, 2012, La Presse journalist Anabelle Nicoud wrote an article about Joanna Martinez. Ms. Nicoud did not approach CIC before writing the article.
Stories presenting only one side of a story can lead to public distrust of the rule of law. Factually incorrect or incomplete reporting usually leaves the impression that Canada’s refugee determination system is unjust or heartless. In fact, Canada has the most generous and fair refugee determination system in the world. Less than one per cent of the decisions made by the highly-trained adjudicators on the Immigration and Refugee Board are overturned by the federal courts on appeal. That is a remarkable record, and one of which Canadians should be proud.
In order to ensure that the reputation of our refugee determination system is not tarnished unfairly, we are releasing the full chronology of Ms. Martinez and her interactions with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Although privacy laws generally forbid us from releasing such information, in this case Ms. Martinez has a long, public record in front of criminal and civil courts in Canada and the United States. We are releasing only the public information, which is still an incomplete picture of the case.
We are taking the unusual step of writing this public letter in order to remind journalists and the public alike that immigration stories are no different from any other news story: Journalists should present the complete story, and not simply rely on one person’s self-interested and uncorroborated account of events. Misleading stories on important subjects damage the public discourse in Canada.
Our request is simple: If you are a journalist writing about someone facing removal from Canada, please get a privacy waiver from the subject of your story so that we can provide the complete file to you. And if the subject of your story or their lawyer is refusing to provide you with a privacy waiver and the written decision from the Immigration and Refugee Board, you may want to ask them and yourself why they are refusing to do so.
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