Published Article

March 04, 2022

Anna Purkey, VULNER member of the Canadian Team, published the first article ‘Vulnerability and the Quest for Protection: A Review of Canadian Migration Case Law’ , which belongs to the LAWS Special Issue Vulnerability and the Legal Protection of Migrants: A Critical Look at the Canadian Context.

Drawing on preliminary research conducted for the first VULNER research report from Canada, Anna explored the varied and at times ambiguous understandings of the concept of ‘vulnerability’ in Canadian migration jurisprudence. By studying the data from over 750 cases primarily from the Immigration and Refugee Board and the Federal Court of Canada, this study examined how the concept of vulnerability is used by both decision-makers and parties to cases involving migrants seeking legal status and various forms of protection (including, but not limited to, asylum) under national or international law in Canada. Although an analysis of case law necessarily produces only a partial image of the landscape, this review identified two understandings of vulnerability at play: a procedural one associated with the need to ensure access to justice and a fair hearing, and a substantive one where vulnerability is linked to the categorization of particular groups. In both instances, the recognized importance of the concept is offset by its narrow and inconsistent application and a failure to acknowledge the role that the institutions and mechanisms of ‘protection’ play in creating and perpetuating vulnerability.

The Special Issue Vulnerability and the Legal Protection of Migrants: A Critical Look at the Canadian Context, which is co-edited by Delphine Nakache, leader of the Canadian VULNER team, and Anna Purkey, another member of the Canadian VULNER team, seeks to contribute to the debate on what ‘vulnerability’ in the context of migration means, by providing a series of papers offering a critical analysis of how ‘vulnerability’ is defined and understood in Canadian law, policy and practice. This special issue is based on the first series of results from the Canadian VULNER research project that is funded by the Canadian Research Council (SSHRC/CRSH) and the Fonds de recherche du Québec—Société et Culture (FRQSC) as part of the EU Horizon’s VULNER project.

The full article is available in open access and ca be downloaded here.

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