Canadian Court Rules the “3rd Country Agreement” with United States Violates of Canadian Law

WASHINGTON — A Canadian federal court ruled today that Canada’s “safe third-country agreement” between the United States and Canada violates the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms due to U.S. practices of imprisoning asylum seekers and attendant rights violations.

Human Rights First’s Anwen Hughes provided expert testimony in the case.

“The Canadian court ruling is a strong condemnation of U.S. asylum and detention policies,” said Hughes. “The ruling confirms that these policies are inconsistent with the Refugee Convention and the norms of free and democratic societies. The court concluded that U.S. detention and asylum policies penalize asylum seekers for the simple act of making a refugee claim, and that the United States is imprisoning asylum seekers and subjecting them to cruel and unusual detention conditions and the risks of improper return to persecution.”

The Canadian court has stayed its decision for six month pending resolution by the Canadian Parliament. Human Rights First notes that the Trump administration’s treatment of asylum seekers is now even worse than it was at the time evidence was submitted in this case. In light of the court’s decision and this on-going deterioration, Human Rights First urges the Canadian government to take this opportunity to withdraw from the “safe third country” agreement.

The case was brought by the Canadian Council of Refugees, Amnesty International, the Canadian Council of Churches and a number of individual asylum seekers.

Human Rights First has conducted extensive research on the impacts of the Trump administration’s asylum and detention policies including a report on the denial of asylum to refugees due to the transit ban, the dangers facing asylum seekers improperly turned away from the United States, the risks of exposure to COVID-19 in immigration detention, as well as speaking out against proposed rules that would make it harder for asylum seekers to work while they wait for courts to hear their claims and other rules that would make obtaining asylum in the United States functionally impossible.


Published on July 22, 2020


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