On November 27, 2015, the Supreme Court of Canada decided two appeals, B010 v. Canada (Citizenship and Immigration) and R. v. Appulonappa. The appeals concerned the meaning and application of the human smuggling provisions in the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA).
The Supreme Court of Canada unanimously concluded that the offence of “human smuggling” in s. 117 of IRPA, despite its broad wording, applies only to those engaged in organized crime. It does not apply to those who provide humanitarian, mutual and family assistance to asylum-seekers coming to Canada.
These cases arose out of large scale entries to Canada in 2009 and 2010 by Tamil refugees arriving by boat in British Columbia. The Supreme Court’s decision comes in the midst of the most serious worldwide refugee crisis since the Second World War and as Canada prepares to welcome 25,000 Syrian refugees.