A complaint filed by Amnesty International, the Canadian Council of Refugees and the Canadian Council of Churches was first filed last year, claiming that the Canadian government could not guarantee the safety of asylum seekers if they were returned to the United States, citing the Detention of Asylum Seekers by Canada by the Trump administration and the separation of parents and children. “This important decision should be implemented immediately,” said Catherine Morris, Executive Director of LRWC. “It is important that no other asylum seekers are returned to the United States, which is currently far from safe for refugees. U.S. authorities have systematically violated international law by returning refugees to the dangerous places where they are fleeing,” she added. But if they apply for asylum on Canadian soil in a place other than an official crossing point, the process can continue. In most cases, refugees are released and can live in Canada, receiving generous social benefits, while their refugee claims are reconsidered, a process that can take years. A federal judge ruled Wednesday that the pact was contrary to the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, distributed, rewritten or redeployed without permission.) Under the Canada-U.S. agreement, those seeking asylum in Canada and entering land ports of entry from the U.S. are returned to the U.S. However, if immigrants place themselves in a place other than an official crossing point, they can claim asylum in Canada. The human rights group Amnesty International welcomed the court`s decision. LRWC was among many organizations that urged the Canadian government to repeal the STCA, which allows Canada to deny asylum seekers who enter states on the grounds that they should have sought asylum in the United States. In a ruling released Wednesday, Federal Court Judge Ann Marie McDonald ruled that elements of the law that underpin the agreement violate Canada`s constitutional guarantees of life, liberty and security. Because Canada considers the U.S. a “safe country,” it is almost impossible for people in the U.S. to make successful refugee claims in Canada.
The Safe Third Country Agreement allows Canada to return refugees to the United States, even if U.S. authorities then bring them back to the dangers of the countries that left them. Under special rules established by the United States and Canada to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, most of those who entered illegally in both directions are now immediately repatriated to the other country. Since Donald Trump became President of the United States in January 2017, tens of thousands of people have entered Canada from the United States to seek asylum. “While the Federal Court has given the government six months of leeway, it is essential that Canada immediately halt the return of complainants to the United States,” said Alex Neve, Secretary General of Amnesty International Canada. “The safe third country agreement has been the source of serious human rights violations for many years, as this judgment clearly confirms.” The Canadian government said it was aware of the decision and the asylum pact remains in force. “This is certainly a broad criticism of U.S. policy of detaining asylum seekers,” Theresa Brown, now director of immigration and cross-border policy at the Bipartisan Policy Center in Washington, said in an email Wednesday. The judgment may also be challenged before a Federal Court of Appeal or the Supreme Court. In order to circumvent the rule and ensure that their asylum claims are considered in Canada, tens of thousands of migrants have arrived in the country through unofficial crossing points such as Roxham Road, an area on the border between New York and Quebec.
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