Amnesty International welcomes the arrival of two of the “Snowden Refugees” to Canada, urges government to expedite resettlement of remaining five
Amnesty International joins others here today in welcoming Vanessa Rodel and her daughter to Canada as refugees resettled through private sponsorship. It is a happy end to a search for safety that began when Ms. Rodel fled from the Philippines in 2002; and took an entirely unexpected turn in 2013 when, along with five other asylum seekers in Hong Kong, including two children, she was drawn into the effort to provide support and shelter to Edward Snowden. Mr. Snowden was, of course, being actively sought by US authorities for having publicly leaked documents showing the massive extent of US surveillance practices.
Ms. Rodel, her daughter and the other five individuals have been at risk in Hong Kong ever since that time. Joining with Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International approached the Canadian government nearly two years ago, in May 2017, urging that private sponsorship applications that been filed for their resettlement to Canada as refugees be approved.
While it has taken longer than anyone would have wished for the successful resolution we see today for Ms. Rodel and her daughter, it is a tremendous relief to know that they are now here in Canada, where they are safe and can move forward with their lives.
Amnesty International commends the Canadian government for having taken this important step; thanks the individuals who have provided sponsorship for Ms. Rodel and her daughter; acknowledges the tremendous efforts made by the team of lawyers who have been working on these cases for several years; and expresses tremendous respect for Ms. Rodel and the courageous decision she made in 2013 to provide assistance, despite obvious personal risk, to a man who has since come to be recognized as one of the most influential global human rights figures of the past decade.
Amnesty International urges that the applications for resettlement to Canada as refugees made by the remaining five individuals -- a couple from Sri Lanka and their two children, and a man from Sri Lanka -- be approved with no further delay, so that they too can come to safety in Canada.