Safe Third Country agreement still in force

  • February 8, 2008

{mosimage}The deal between Canada and the United States which forces refugees to apply for refugee status in the first country they land will remain in force while the federal government appeals a Federal Court ruling that the agreement is illegal.

On Jan. 17 Justice Michael Phelan ruled that the United States fails to comply with United Nations conventions on refugees and on torture, striking down the Safe Third Country agreement between Canada and the United States. He also ruled that returning a refugee claimant to the United States from Canada violates the Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Granting a stay on the ruling while the government pursues the appeal “gives higher priority to the government’s administrative convenience than to the risk of persecution, torture and even death faced by refugees,” said a Canadian Council of Refugees press release.

The Canadian Council of Churches, Amnesty International and the Canadian Council for Refugees teamed up to test the Safe Third Country agreement in Federal Court last November. The agreement has been in place since 2004.

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