Canada asylum hearing delayed in closely watched Roma case

Thu Jun 20, 2013 1:36pm EDT
 
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(Reuters) - Canada's Immigration and Refugee Board has put off until mid-July a hearing on an asylum claim by Hungarian Roma activist Viktoria Mohácsi, a former member of the European Parliament.

The case is being closely watched as a test of the Canadian government's new immigration policy that considers nearly all EU countries "safe." Mohácsi, a Roma, claims she would be in danger from hate groups and persecution by authorities if she returned to Hungary.

The Hungarian government has denied she would be in any danger.

The board was due to start hearing her case on Tuesday.

Mohácsi's lawyer, Andrew Brouwer, said the hearing had been postponed for administrative reasons.

Canada's Conservative government tightened its refugee law in December to crack down on what it said was a wave of fake refugee claims from EU nationals trying to take advantage of generous welfare programs. Many of those asylum seekers were Roma.

Immigration Minister Jason Kenney singled out Hungary, which has been the top source of asylum seekers in Canada for the past three years, even though Hungarians as EU citizens can travel freely within the bloc.

(Reporting by Mirjam Donath; Editing by Leslie Gevirtz)

 
Viktoria Mohacsi sits at the door of the house, where she rents the basement apartment, in Toronto, May 9, 2013. REUTERS/Mirjam Donath