Federal Court Questions Canada-US Refugee Agreement

CIC News
Published: December 17, 2007

Citing several recent cases, the Canadian federal court has deemed that the United States is not a safe country for refugee claimants and that the Safe Third Country Agreement between the two countries violates Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Canada entered into the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) with the US in 2004, establishing that asylum-seekers would receive equivalent standards of refugee protection in both countries. The STCA denies refugees, who have first landed in the US, the right to later seek refugee protection in Canada. It allows the two countries to share the responsibility for refugee protection and has reduced the number of refugee claimants from the United States at the Canadian border.

The Canadian Council for Refugees is challenging the Safe Third Country Agreement on grounds that refugee claimants are not given the same treatment in the United States as they are in Canada. For example, Canada will not deport failed refugee claimants back to Haiti, among other countries where they may be tortured, but the United States will. Mr. Justice Mike Phelan, the federal court judge who heard the allegation, ruled that the United States "does not meet the Refugee Convention requirement nor the [UN] Convention Against Torture prohibition," and that, in entering the STCA, Canada "acted unreasonably" in concluding that it did.

Additionally, STCA unfairly discriminates against method of arrival. It allows Canadian Border Service Agents to automatically send refugee claimants back to the US if they are arriving by land; however, those who arrive by air are not turned back.

Amnesty International, among other groups, called on the federal government to scrap the STCA after Judge Phelan ruled that it violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms. "We have a judgment that in clear, stark, detailed ways highlights the multiplicity of human-rights violations and shortcomings in the refugee system that await asylum claimants who are turned away from the Canadian border and forced into the US," stated Alex Neve, secretary-general of Amnesty International.

The agreement currently remains in effect, as the Federal Court has given both parties until January 14, 2008 to make and respond to submissions for an appeal. If the Agreement ceases to exist, Canada can reasonably expect to see a significant inflow of refugee claimants from the United States.

Share this article
Share your voice
Did you find this article helpful?
Thank you for your feedback.
Subscribe to our newsletter
Did you find this article helpful?
Please provide a response
Thank you for your helpful feedback
Please contact us if you would like to share additional feedback, have a question, or would like Canadian immigration assistance.
  • Do you need Canadian immigration assistance? Contact the Contact Cohen Immigration Law firm by completing our form
  • Send us your feedback or your non-legal assistance questions by emailing us at media@canadavisa.com
Top Stories
Ontario, British Columbia and Saskatchewan invite candidates for nomination in latest draws
Canadian Immigration Lawyers Association recommends IRPA legislation reform
Speed Up Your Canadian Study Permit through the Student Direct Stream: Tips for International Students
Join our free newsletter. Get Canada's top immigration stories delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe
More in Sponsor Content
Speed Up Your Canadian Study Permit through the Student Direct Stream: Tips for International Students
International students aiming to study in Canada can expedite their study permit application process through a specialized program offered by the Canadian government.
Live Webinar: A Clear Path to Academic Achievement in Canada Redefined
Attain a great score on your language assessment and increase your chances of admission to a Canadian university.
Avoid these common tax-filing mistakes as a self-employed newcomer
Filing your income taxes when self-employed can sometimes be a more complicated and involved process than tax filing as an employee in Canada.
Prepare for CAEL and Meet Your Academic Goals with the Path to Success!
The CAEL Path to Success is a helpful tool to chart and track your progress as candidates prepare for CAEL.
Link copied to clipboard