ICCPR Case Digest




Submission: 2019.08.22

View Adopted: 2022.11.01

Abdilahi Ahmed Elmi v. Canada

Violation of the right of a non-permanent resident to enter his own country

Substantive Issues
  • Right to family
  • Right to life
  • Torture / ill-treatment
Relevant Articles
  • Article 12.4
  • Article 17
  • Article 2 - OP1
  • Article 23.1
  • Article 3 - OP1
  • Article 5.2 (b) - OP1
  • Article 6
  • Article 7
Full Text


The author of the communication is Abdilahi Ahmed Elmi, a Somali national. When he was 11 years old, the author and his mother obtained the status of refugees in Canada. He later applied for permanent residence, but his application was rejected. In 2014, after the author had been convicted on two criminal charges, a “report of inadmissibility” was issued against him. In 2019, the State party also issued a “danger opinion” to remove him from the country. The author applied before the Federal Court for leave to review the opinion. While the application was pending, he submitted the communication to the Committee to request interim measures. The author claims that, in light of the humanitarian situation and his lack of ties to the country, the decision to remove him to Somalia would expose him to significant risks to his life and well-being, in violation of articles 6 (right to life) and 7 (prohibition of torture). He further claims that, by deporting him, Canada would arbitrarily deprive him of the right to enter his own country under article 12(4) and would violate articles 17 (right to privacy) and 23(1) (protection of the family).


The Committee observes that the author’s application for leave to review the “danger opinion” does not constitute an effective remedy. Therefore, the State party’s allegation that the author has not exhausted all available domestic remedies is rejected. Moreover, the Committee notes that the author’s claims under articles 6, 7, 17, and 23(1) have not been sufficiently substantiated, and are thus inadmissible. By contrast, the claim under article 12(4) is admissible.


Since the author has lived in Canada for the greatest part of his life and he has no ties to Somalia, the Committee considers that Canada is his “own country” under article 12(4). The Committee further observes that, in light of the author’s lack of ties to Somalia and the fact that the expulsion would make his return to Canada de facto impossible, the removal decision taken by the Canadian authorities is disproportionate to the goal it aims to achieve and thus arbitrary. Therefore, by deporting the author, Canada would violate article 12(4).


The State party is required, inter alia, to provide the author with an effective remedy, which includes refraining from deporting him to Somalia.


Deadline: 1 May 2023

More information on the case:

Toronto Star - Former Somali child refugee Abdilahi Elmi released from detention in Alberta

CBC - ‘A death sentence’: Mother of former child refugee facing deportation makes emotional plea

By: Giacomo Bruno

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