Canada`s Asylum Agreement

In a judgment of more than 60 years, Justice Ann Marie McDonald cited the conditions under which asylum seekers were subjected while in U.S. detention, including lack of access to health care or adequate counsel. The decision “is a clear critique of the way the United States treats asylum seekers and a resounding explanation of what we American supporters have known for years – the United States is not a safe place for asylum seekers,” said Dr. Dree Collopy, a refugee lawyer in Washington. The Canadian government could appeal the verdict; finally, it could be at the Supreme Court of Canada`s decision on the fate of the treaty. If the decision is upheld, “it means that asylum seekers who are unfairly denied asylum in the United States would have a second chance in Canada,” said Lindsay Harris, director of the Immigration and Human Rights Clinic at District Of Columbia University. The government also argued that a downgrade of the agreement would result in an increase in applications and jeopardize the entire refugee system. In a case brought by several refugee lawyers and individual asylum seekers, the Federal Court of Canada in Ottawa ruled that the bilateral pact, the Safe Third Country Agreement, violated the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which guarantees the right to “freedom” and “security.” Under the agreement, refugee claimants must apply in the first country they arrive between the United States or Canada, unless they are entitled to a waiver. For example, asylum seekers who are citizens of a country other than the United States and who arrive from the United States at the land border between Canada and the United States can only assert their rights to refugees in Canada if they fulfill an exception under the Safe Third Country Agreement. Justin Mohammed, legal and political adviser at Amnesty International Canada, said the dispute was part of a long-standing attempt to push Canada to recognize that the human rights of asylum seekers are being violated in the United States, a situation that has deteriorated amid the Trump administration`s anti-refugee ethics. WATCH | Repatriation of asylum seekers to the United States

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