Safe Third Country Agreement Legal Challenge

Federal Judge Ann Marie McDonald ruled that the agreement violated a section of the Canadian Charter of Rights that states that laws or acts of state that affect liberty and security must respect the principles of fundamental justice. Concerns were expressed about the lack of security legislation to protect refugees in the United States. These security concerns and arguments give refugees legitimate reasons to travel to Canada for a better life. On December 29, 2005, a group of refugee and human rights organizations (in both Canada and the United States) launched a legal challenge to the United States` claim as the third safe country for refugees seeking asylum. This legal challenge was supported by eminent personalities such as Justice Michael Phelan of the Federal Court of Canada on November 29, 2007, and many others. The Federal Court`s initial challenge to the Safe Third Country Agreement was filed in 2017 and hearings were held towards the end of 2019. Lawyers from the Canadian Council for Refugees, the Canadian Council of Churches and Amnesty International joined the case and acted on behalf of a group of asylum seekers. Conventions relating to safe third countries are not explicitly mentioned in the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or in the 1967 Protocol relating to the Status of Refugees. Instead, their legality derives from Article 31 of the 1951 Convention, which states that a refugee should not be punished for illegal entry into a country when arriving directly from a country where he or she was threatened.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has itself warned against overly broad an interpretation of safe third country agreements, but acknowledges that they may be acceptable in certain circumstances. [22] Such ambiguities have led some jurists in Canada to question the legality of the Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement. [23] In July 2017, the CCR joined others in a new legal challenge. In addition to the exemption criteria provided for in the agreement, refugee claimants must continue to meet all other admission criteria of the relevant immigration legislation for the country in which they are applying for status. While refugee claimants entering Canada at official crossing points are generally returned to the United States, they are not returned when crossing at locations between designated ports of entry. In this case, their claims are heard and many immigration experts consider this to be a gap in the agreement. [6] [7] Under the agreement, persons claiming refugee status must make their claim in the first country they arrive in, between the United States or Canada, unless they are eligible for a waiver. For example, refugee claimants who are citizens of a country other than the United States and who arrive from the United States at the Canada-U.S. land border can only assert their rights in Canada if they fill an exception under the Safe Third Country Agreement. . .


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