News/Canada: Strip their rights: Cop

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Subject: News/Canada: Strip their rights: Cop
From: A. Jordan (annj@hrlawgroup.org)
Date: Fri Aug 27 1999 - 11:10:04 EDT


Strip their rights: Cop
Peelers claim refugee status
By TOM GODFREY
THE TORONTO SUN, July 22, 1999

Foreign strippers are waltzing into Canada as political refugees to get
around an exotic dancer crackdown by Ottawa, police say.

The "trend" surfaced after eight Hungarian strippers rounded up by police
in a blitz last week on Toronto-area strip clubs revealed they'd claimed
refugee status upon entering the country in the fall, said Toronto Police
Det. Bert O'Mara.

Federal immigration officials last summer ruled foreign strippers must
prove they're professional dancers before they're issued a work permit.

O'Mara said 14 women in their early 20s were recruited in Budapest for
dancing jobs here but were refused work permits last July 1998 at the
Canadian embassy in Vienna.

He said eight of the group caught flights to Toronto and claimed status
upon arrival at Pearson airport.

Visitors from Hungary don't require a visa to enter Canada.

Five Toronto-area people have been charged with a slew of
prostitution-related offences.

RCMP Sgt. Paul MacIsaac said the dancers are counselled by strip-club
organizers on how and what to tell immigration officers when they claim
status.

"This is a new trend for us," MacIsaac said. "These people are claiming
status as a loophole to get into the country."

The Mounties said the strippers claim they're being persecuted in Hungary
because of their political views.

"Organizers are telling people to make bogus refugee claims so they could
work," MacIsaac said.

He said the women were threatened with deportation if they failed to work
as hookers upon arrival. They were also forced to sign a form that states
they've revoked their refugee claim. If they fail to work or cause trouble,
the form is sent to immigration officials.

Immigration spokesman Giovanna Gatta said once a claim is made, it has to
be heard by officials.

"It's too early to say if there's a trend occurring," Gatta said. "These
cases could be isolated."

Ann Jordan
Director, Initiative Against Trafficking in Persons
International Human Rights Law Group
1200 18th St., NW
Washington, DC 20036
P:202-822-4600
F:202-822-4606
www.hrlawgroup.org


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