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Canadian Court Strikes Down Safe Third Country Agreement

2020-07-23 21:43:49.110629+00 by Dan Lyke 0 comments

Canadian Court Strikes Down Safe Third Country Agreement with United States

The Center for Gender & Refugee Studies (CGRS) applauds today’s historic decision from the Federal Court of Canada, striking down the Safe Third Country Agreement (STCA) between Canada and the United States. The decision from Justice Anne Marie McDonald found the agreement to be unconstitutional, holding that it violates the guarantee in the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms of the “rights to life, liberty and security of the person[.]” Under the STCA, which was originally implemented in 2004, asylum seekers arriving at the U.S.-Canada land border are, with limited exceptions, denied the opportunity to apply for protection in Canada and instead summarily returned to the United States, where they are held in immigration detention while they pursue their claims.

Justice McDonald ruled today that the United States’ practice of imprisoning asylum seekers constitutes a deprivation of the right to liberty. She also found that the often squalid and unsafe conditions in U.S. immigration detention centers violate asylum seekers’ right to security under the Canadian Charter. Justice McDonald specifically cited to evidence regarding the U.S. government’s detention of asylum seekers in freezing holding cells, use of solitary confinement, and failure to ensure adequate and timely access to medical care. In addition, Justice McDonald held that detention itself impedes the ability of asylum seekers to obtain legal counsel, increasing their risk of being wrongly denied protection and returned to persecution.

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